An SF State alumna is the youngest candidate in the running for the Bay Area chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Woman of the Year award.

LLS’s national fundraising competition, which officially awards both Man and Woman of the Year, recognizes candidates who raise as much money as they can for the organization. After 10 weeks, the two people from each chapter who raised the most money are crowned that chapter’s Man and Woman of the Year. Molly Diedrich, 23, was nominated in the Bay Area’s LLS chapter in November and has raised almost $1,000.

“They call it a competition, but all the proceeds go to the same amazing organization,” Diedrich said. “So it’s like each dollar counts as a vote.”

Diedrich, who graduated in December from SF State with a degree in Child and Adolescent Development, is no stranger to community service. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, whose philanthropic endeavors include volunteering at the SF Food Bank and cleaning up the Marin Headlands, served as the sorority’s chapter president during her final year at school.

“It’s interesting because everyone else who is participating has a very personal connection with blood cancers specifically–either they themselves had it or someone very close to them has,” Diedrich said. She said that since beginning the competition, however, she has had multiple people with whom she is close tell her that they have battled leukemia or lymphoma.

SF State alumna Molly Diedrich poses for a portrait in front of a wall of former students, faculty and staff Aat UCSF Medical Center Tuesday, April 14. (Helen Tinna / Xpress)
SF State alumna Molly Diedrich poses for a
portrait in front of a wall of former students, faculty and staff Aat UCSF Medical Center Tuesday, April 14. (Helen Tinna / Xpress)

Diedrich was nominated after a chance meeting with LLS nominating committee member Larry Gerquest at a family dinner. The two bonded over Diedrich’s memories of the Light the Night Walk, an LLS-sponsored event where she had volunteered with Alpha Gamma Delta. Two years prior, Deidrich’s sorority sister Katie Thompson was diagnosed with Leukemia and it had become a personal cause for the sorority chapter.

Diedrich said that when she told him she had helped out at the event, Gerquest’s ears perked up and through him, Deidrich was officially nominated by November 2014.

“I was impressed with her enthusiasm, outstanding leadership skills and experiences as a student at San Francisco State,” Gerquest said. “When I learned that she had a passion for the cause of fighting blood cancers, I knew right away that we had a 2015 candidate for Woman of the Year.”

When campaigning began, Diedrich compiled a team consisting of four SF State alumni who were in her sorority and her biological sister Amelia, 27. The team is dedicated to help Diedrich meet her goal of raising $20,000 for LLS, she said. Diedrich, inspired by the latest Amy Poehler book, named the campaign “Cure Cancer? Yes, Please.

“(Poehler) had talked about how ‘yes, please’ is a powerful and concise phrase,” Diedrich said. “It’s a response and a request, and so I’m responding to my call to action and requesting a cure.”

Robyn Hester, a 23-year-old SF State alumna, graduate student at the California College of the Arts and member of the “Yes, Please” team said it was important to her to participate and try to make a change to help out her friend.

“I joined to lend my support to my friend Molly (Diedrich) and help her support this organization that is so close to her heart,” Hester said.

To help Diedrich reach her fundraising goal, the team utilized direct queries through their personal and sorority networks and organized a series of events, including an awareness hike at Land’s End, a bake sale and an upcoming scavenger hunt. Diedrich will also guest-bartend at the Buffalo Club in the Mission from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 29 and will donate the tips to her campaign.

Diedrich said the “Yes, Please” team has raised $940 to date and she is optimistic about the next seven weeks, whether or not she meets her goal.

“I’m doing this to have fun and raise as much as I personally can and continue my involvement with this organization,” Diedrich said. “I’m always thinking about who I can talk to to help raise more money.”