Queens Village student honored for Gold Ribbon Project raising more than $25,000 for pediatric cancer research

Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS.

A Queens Village student at Archbishop Molloy High School was honored Monday for her outstanding community service and Gold Ribbon Project raising more than $25,000 for pediatric cancer research.

Cayla Kumar, 16, a junior at Archbishop Molloy High School, located at 83-53 Manton St. in Briarwood, was presented with an engraved bronze medallion recognized as a selected Distinguished Finalist for New York in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards on March 18.

“Thousands of students across the country were considered for the 2019 Spirit of Community Awards, from all of these a very select few in each state and in the District of Columbia have been selected for recognition. Here in New York, I’m delighted to report that one of our distinguished finalists is Cayla Kumar,” said Prudential Financial Advisor Kenneth Marable.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program exclusively on volunteer community service. It was created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) honoring middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level.

Thus far, it has recognized more than 125,000 young people who’ve made a difference — and inspired countless others to consider how they might contribute to their communities.

Kumar’s creation of the Gold Ribbon Project stemmed from her family members’ battle with cancer, deeply affecting her, she said.

“My great grandmother passed away and she had breast cancer and my baby cousin was diagnosed with a brain tumor, so having cancer affected me in all aspects of my life,” said Kumar. “It was something that I wanted to pursue and helping with research and anything that I can possibly do.”

In 2012, Kumar became the first official youth ambassador of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

“Being able to work with children and visit hospitals is what really inspired me to keep going,” said Kumar, who began volunteering at the age of 11. “I’m working on a website and hoping with my Gold Ribbon Project it’ll bloom and reach people all across the nation.”

Additionally, Kumar volunteers with other organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and she has also traveled to Washington, D.C. for the CureFest rally, where she got to speak to legislators about increasing cancer research funding.  

She is also currently Miss New York Outstanding Teen 2018 and is looking forward to pursuing a future career as a pediatric oncologist.  

“I’m humbled by all of my experiences that I’ve received all of these awards. The reason why I continue to serve is because I want to make a difference in my community, and help as many people as possible so receiving this award today means the world to me, especially since my school got to be a part of it,” said Kumar.

Archbishop Molloy High School Principal Darius Penikas, applauded Kumar for her accomplishments.

“We’re very proud with Cayla with everything that she’s done and her initiative and drive and who she is as a person,” said Penikas. “She’s a wonderful representative of our school and she’s really a testament to the types of students we have here, and we couldn’t be more proud.”


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