Indian American cousins to host kite festival fundraiser for leukemia

Samir and Saar Shah

NEW YORK – Indian American high school sophomores Samir Shah and Saar Shah of Maryland will be holding a Kite Festival in Leonardtown at the Fairgrounds in Montgomery County, Maryland, on Saturday, March 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to raise money for their campaign Fly4aCure under the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

The Shahs have taken part in LLS’s Students of the Year competition, a seven-week fundraising competition for high school students and currently have over 20 team members from local schools in Maryland.

Their goal is to raise $200,000 with $100,000 from personal donations and $100,000 in corporate sponsorship.

“We began working with the LLS in 2010 when our cousin Ami was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, my father, Amish, was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoma. At that time, I was only 12 and my sister Neelam, 10,” Samir said.

“We didn’t understand the significance then but now we have a better understanding of what the LLS has done to provide greater research for new innovative treatments. It has helped our family during our struggle,” he added.

The Shahs live in St. Mary’s County, which has population of 111,000 residents. An estimated 500 people are battling a type of blood cancer, the most common types being leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease, according to

According to LLS, blood cancers, on average, account for more than 10 percent of all new cancer cases diagnosed each year—and they’re the third leading cancer killer in the country, says

LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer research.

While there is no way to prevent blood cancers, LLS is dedicated to finding a cure by relying on donations to fund research projects.

Each year, LLS hosts a Student of the Year fundraising competition, designed for high school students to compete in raising the most money for LLS.

“I would say it’s as important to us as it is to the community by us winning. It would show how close knit we are, and how much we care about this cause. It’s not us raising the money. It’s the community raising the money,” Samir told

The Shahs hope the kite festival draws a large crowd of about 2,000 visitors so they can make it an annual event.



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