Archmere’s Connor Dennewitz always willing to lend a hand
CLAYMONT — Raising $50,000 in six weeks can be a daunting task. Getting 10 percent of that amount is hard enough.
For Connor Dennewitz, it was a challenge right up his alley. The Archmere Academy senior has been volunteering with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Delaware for many years, and he has seen up close how these and other diseases can affect children.
With the help of classmate Tori Richardson, he set a goal to raise $5,000 and got to work. He reached out to his middle school, St. Edmond’s Academy, which had a fundraiser that exceeded Dennewitz’s original goal. Archmere held a tag day specifically for the campaign, and the school donated proceeds from a dance as well. Dennewitz also reached out to local businesses.
“Sponsorships were a big part of it as well,” he said recently on the Claymont campus.
When the six-week campaign ended, he had raised more than $50,000. For his efforts, the LLS named him its 2015 Student of the Year. The award came with a $2,500 college scholarship, but Dennewitz returned that money to the society.
“Now I’m going back and I’m helping out as a committee member for this year’s campaign,” Dennewitz said. He will be able to give feedback to the 15 students who are candidates for the award in 2016.
He hopes to major in a science field in college and become a doctor. For the past two summers, he has volunteered at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he would spend time with girls and boys facing surgery.
“My job was to kind of take their minds off things,” he said.
This past summer, he was an ambassador for the volunteer program, leading nine other high school students. He also was able to witness some surgeries.
“I was able to walk around the halls of the hospital just seeing what goes on in an everyday kind of scenario. It was eye-opening and a great experience,” he said.
A member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hockessin, Dennewitz was president of the student body at St. Edmond’s and has continued his service work at Archmere. He has helped at a food bank in Philadelphia and with food drives at the school. He loves the feeling he gets from helping out.
“There’s no material return you get from it,” he said. “When you go to a Christmas party for the children in Knollwood, you see the smiles light up their faces. You see kids that can kind of connect with you. Kid-to-kid, it’s that kind of impact that kind of brightens my day.”
His older brother and sister attended Archmere, and it was his first choice as well. He said he has benefited from the school’s small size, and he has made great friends. Of course, there are the academics as well.
“I love being challenged in school. I’m constantly studying. I love math. I always want to figure out that program. I also love science as well,” he said.
He just finished his high school football career, and he plays lacrosse in the spring. He likes sports because they keep him active and add structure to his life. Athletics, he said, gives him an opportunity to put everything else aside for a few hours, clear his mind and have fun. This season, he was a co-captain of the football team. The feeling of representing his school is one of the best parts.
“Strapping on the green and white every Saturday or Friday night, it means the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said. “Being able to lead the team out on the field, I feel humbled.”
He has not yet chosen a college, but he can see himself back in a hospital in several years, this time as a physician helping get rid of cancer. That would be the best gift of all for those patients.