Felicia Alcaraz is a Latina who honors her roots and makes us proud with her dedication to raising funds and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The California native works as a Continuity Director for Clear Channel’s 99.1 KGGI-FM and won the 2012 Inland Empire Woman of the Year for her work with LLS. Felicia is currently working on her Master’s degree in Marriage Family Therapy, which she hopes to earn by 2013. Check out what the inspiring 27-year-old has to say about giving back to her community and more below:
What inspired you to fight for the LLS cause?
"Two years ago, I helped out with a couple of campaigns and also participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Light the Night" walk in 2011. Philanthropy work has always been a big part of my life, it is something that I enjoy -- [helping] others. What really inspired me to fight for LLS was that I heard some statistics, [like] approximately every four minutes someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and every 10 minutes someone loses their battle. It really made me stop and think. I mean, could you imagine? That means about six people an hour, and nearly 145 people die [every day] from these blood cancers."
You were recently awarded a "Woman of the Year" award for your effects in raising awareness for the cause. What was your reaction to receiving this accolade?
"I was in shock, but proud and honored. Although it is an award for Woman of the Year, my team 'Leaders & Loving Supporters' helped me every step of the way, and with their help and the help of numerous others that donated, in just 10 weeks we were able to raise $30,839.00. It felt like a great achievement all around."
As a Latina, how have your grassroots efforts made a change in your community?
"I feel that my efforts have raised awareness in the community of not only blood cancers and LLS, but of volunteering and philanthropy work in general. We had so many people from the community involved in our fundraising events that had never volunteered at all before, but they felt good about donating their time because it was for a good cause and I'm sure it is something they will continue to do and pass down. It is important that those in the community, especially children and adolescents, know that our environment does not define who we are. Only we can determine that. So be resilient and continue to have goals and ambitions, because you can reach them, I'm living proof of that."
What do you want Latinas to know about blood cancers and staying healthy?
"It important to stay healthy not just for appearance, or for someone else, but for yourself. No information has been found to conclude that blood cancers are genetic or hereditary, which means that anyone can have a blood cancer, no matter what your sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is. In fact, Leukemia is the number one cancer killer among children and young adults under the age of 20. Still, being healthy is one of the best preventive measures anyone can take for any disease, so why not try to stay as healthy as you can?"
What do you look forward to in your future?
"I look forward to a cancer free world! But for now I can be content in knowing that I and numerous others are doing as much as we can to get one step closer to finding a cure."
Do you know an inspiring young Latina? If so, email us at InspiringLatinas@Latina.com!