Denton, Md., teen adds Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to list of beneficiaries
EASTON, Md. – If you live or are traveling through Talbot County, Md., through early May, keep an eye out for Ryan Freeman. The senior at Ss. Peter and Paul High School may try to take some of your money. But it’s nothing to be alarmed about. In fact, when you hear Freeman’s reasoning, you may feel inspired to reach into your wallet and hand him a few bucks.
Freeman, 17, is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Maryland chapter. Not only is he generating revenue for a good cause, he is up for the society’s student of the year with the opportunity to win some scholarship money for college.
His team is called “Sabres for a Cure,” and since mid-March they have been busy separating local people from their cash. Some of that has been by simply asking for donations, while others have been more interactive. On April Fools Day, Bullock’s Deli in Freeman’s hometown of Denton, Md., served up between 200 and 300 subs, with a portion of the profits benefiting the LLS. The next night, Sabres for a Cure hosted “Bail for Jail” at Doc’s Downtown Grille in Easton, Md., in which a group of local notables were “jailed” until enough money was secured for their release.
“We have an Avon seven-week long sale. It’s a whole bunch of stuff,” Freeman, a member of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, said in late March.
He also has planned a more formal event, the Lady Eden Ball. Lady Caroline Eden was the wife of Maryland’s last colonial governor, and Caroline County, Md., which includes Denton, is named after her.
“One of the teachers who used to work here, he’s a big historian, so he’s going to help me with that. I’m pretty excited about that. We’re hoping that will raise a lot of funds,” Freeman said.
Sheila North, Ss. Peter and Paul’s director of guidance, nominated Freeman for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society award. Although she’s in her first year at the school, she learned enough about Freeman to confidently make the nomination after she was contacted by the Maryland LLS.
“Ryan steps above and beyond. You give him a standard here, he’s beyond that,” North said. “He is involved in a lot of volunteer work, and not just one organization, but a multitude.”
Family and school influences
Community service has become an integral part of his life. Students at Ss. Peter and Paul are required to complete 80 hours of service, and Freeman said he has more than 1,200 on the books.
“The school is definitely centered around doing community service, so I started freshman year. But my mom does a ton. She’s constantly volunteering, so I’m just kind of following in her footsteps. My dad has done a lot as well,” he said.
He said his parents, Marie and Daniel, maintain the Route 404 Memorial Garden on Route 404 “because my sister passed away on 404. That’s their big project that they’ve done for a lot of years now.”
His sister, Brianna Nicole, who would be 19 now, died at 10 months old after an automobile accident. Her organs were donated, and, Marie Freeman said, her son maintains a close relationship with the young man who received Brianna’s heart.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Freeman’s time and talent has been the Special Olympics. He helps out with basketball, swimming and golf for that organization. One common thread between LLS and Special Olympics is that Freeman does not have any family connection with either leukemia and lymphoma or special needs.
“I don’t know anyone in my family that’s had leukemia or lymphoma,” he said. “Sort of like the Special Olympics. All the other partners have a sister that has Down syndrome or a brother with autism. I have no familial connection to anybody in the Special Olympics, so I’m doing things, I guess, to be good. It gives you a good feeling when you see the impact in your community. That’s a really, really good feeling.”
Freeman said he held a one-day fundraiser for a local hospice that netted $5,000. His mother noted that her son also is active with the Polar Bear Plunge, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Ronald McDonald House and the Pals program for adults with Down syndrome, among other organizations.
He’s been just as involved at Ss. Peter and Paul, which he has attended since kindergarten. He is the only four-year member of the baseball team, and he also ran cross country. He founded the Robotics Club during his freshman year, and he has been a leader on retreats for freshmen, sophomores and seniors.
“He is a leader and a mentor to younger students and even his own peers,” North said.
Next fall, he will be heading to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County to study computer science with an eye toward cybersecurity.
“I’ve always been interested in that kind of stuff,” he said.
Before he takes his talents to UMBC, however, Freeman still has unfinished business on the Eastern Shore.