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Lawrence educator honors parents through cancer fundraiser

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Posted at 8:49 AM, Mar 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-25 08:49:50-04

LAWRENCE — Walking into Ms. Leah Beardslee's kindergarten classroom at the Early Learning Center at Amy Beverland Elementary, it's easy to tell there is love in the room.

The walls are lined with educational material, the students are all at their tables working independently.

But close by, Beardslee is watching, listening and helping when she is called on by a student.

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As a second generation educator in Lawrence Township, it's no secret she loves her students like her own.

She is now taking her passion for helping beyond the classroom.

"These are my babies and if one of them had cancer I would want somebody to fight for them," Beardslee said.

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It's one of the reasons she decided to start a fundraiser to make a difference in the lives of people with blood cancer.

It's the mission of the Indianapolis educator who is taking her passion of helping beyond the walls of the classroom.

Beardslee has been teaching for 25 years — 20 of those have been in Lawrence Township.

Beardslee didn't always want to be an educator but decided quickly while at Ball State that she wanted to follow in her fathers footsteps.

When talking about her father Beardslee can't help but get emotional.

Her mother also worked in the education system, as the treasurer for the districts high schools.

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Beardslee's parents are the whole reason she decided to start a fundraiser to raise money for people with blood cancer.

She's lost both of her parents to cancer.

Her mother died suddenly when she was 30, just weeks after her diagnosis.

"Your world changes immediately. Everything that you knew. I don't think I ever thought it can't be me but I never thought it would be me," Beardslee said.

Beardslee's mother was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, she died 36 days after being diagnoses.

"Then to hear it a second time it's just heartbreaking. It's a club no body wants to be in," Beardslee said.

The sudden death of her mother brought an added fear when her dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

"We went through that journey with him for seven and a half years and it was so hard to watch, but on the other hand what a blessing that we had so many days," Beardslee said.

Beardslee credits the years her family got to a chemo drug her father starter right away. One she says the leukemia and lymphoma society helped fund the research for.

"You're never by yourself," Beardslee said.

It's the legacy her dad wanted to live through after death. It's one of the reasons she's trying to become a leukemia and lymphoma society visionary of the year, by raising the most money for the foundation.

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It's a gift she says she was given with her dad, and now she wants to give back.

"I feel like every dollar that we raise if it gives somebody one more day with their person I am winning, and they win," Beardslee said.

Beardslee hopes to raise $50K. If she does there will be a research study named after her parents.

To learn more about her efforts, click here.

Beardslee's efforts in the classroom also earned her the title of teacher of the year at the school.

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WRTV was there for the surprise announcement.

WATCH as Leah Beardslee learns she is the Teacher of the Year

Beardslee named Teacher of the Year

"My parents would be so proud," Beardslee said. "I owe them everything I was so lucky."

It's yet another milestone her parents won't get to celebrate with her, but one she hopes to use as motivation to continue her mission of giving back.