Longtime Girl Scout and St. Louis-area resident Lauren Vanlandingham has earned quite a few badges and other accolades over the years. But the latest honor, announced last week by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, definitely stands out: She’s been named a 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout.
Considered to be the organization’s highest honor, it’s a designation reserved for just 10 Girl Scouts each year — young women who have taken action to address the world’s most pressing issues.
The seeds of what would later become Vanlandingham’s Gold Award project were planted about six years ago. Thirteen years old at the time, Vanlandingham learned from her mother, a teacher, that a boy in her class had passed her a note reading, “My mom has breast cancer.” A survivor of breast cancer herself, Vanlandingham’s mother and the boy’s mom — and the two children — started writing letters of support to each other.
Since then, Vanlandingham has launched A Million Letters, which she describes as having a simple goal of “deliver[ing] one million letters of hope to individuals and their families confronted with the crisis of cancer.” She’s also authored and distributed a book, “Stories of Hope: Be The Light,” which includes 10 cancer survivors’ stories and advice for those looking to inspire a loved one with cancer.
On Monday, Vanlandingham joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske for a conversation about her efforts. Aurrice Duke-Rollings, chief marketing and communications officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, also joined the discussion.
Take a listen:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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