BURLINGAME (KPIX 5) – Like most high school seniors, 17-year-old Zach Martinucci juggles a full schedule: honors classes, college applications, and tennis team practice. All that leaves him little free time. Yet for four years, Zach has made time to participate in Relay for Life, a 24-hour fundraiser put on entirely by students at Burlingame High School.
“We raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Martinucci explained. “That goes to fund research, education, advocacy, and patient services.”
Martinucci got involved his freshman year as a team captain. By sophomore year, he was running the event.
“It’s a unifying sense and a great feeling on campus to have everyone bond together to fight against cancer,” he said.
Today the Burlingame High School Relay for Life is the largest student-run event of its kind in the state. In the last four years alone, they’ve raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for the American Cancer Society.
The high school’s Director of Student Activities says Martinucci stands out because he’s not participating for his own benefit.
“He’s not doing it for his resume,” Mills said. “He’s passionate in what he wants to do—he wants to truly make a change in this world. Ever since he stepped foot on this campus, he’s made a huge impact.”
Martinucci’s work with the American Cancer Society isn’t just limited to his own school, he’s also the lead high school volunteer for all of California, training other students to put on Relays at more than 60 campuses across the state.
The teenager says he’s motivated by the stories of cancer survivors.
Since he’ll be graduating this spring, he says he’s ready to pass along the relay baton to his fellow students, confident in the knowledge that you don’t have to be an adult to make a difference.
So for his work with the American Cancer Society as well as his local leadership, this weeks’ Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Zach Martinucci.
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