Paul Haarala

Paul Haarala, a high school student from Morganton, NC, wanted to challenge himself to give back. “I’m always trying to make myself a better person in whatever way I can,” said Paul. “I like to help other people.”

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L-R: Aaron Herman, Christina Haarala and Paul Haarala

A tuba player, Paul thought his senior tuba recital was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and support for cancer, a disease that has impacted a number of his relatives.

“My family has a long line of cancer history. The most influential for me was my grandfather. When I was in sixth grade, he passed away from brain cancer.” Additionally, many of the men in Paul’s life have struggled with skin cancer.

After researching several local nonprofits, Paul chose to support the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center based on a recommendation from his grandmother, a retired nurse who lives in Chapel Hill and worked at UNC. “I thought it was important to choose an organization in our state.”

Paul set a goal of raising $1,000 for melanoma research. “I don’t have $1,000 to give away, but I thought I could ask a number of people for small donations and it would really add up,” he said. “I wanted to see what a difference one person could make.”

More than 70 people from Paul’s community attended the recital. Paul created informational fliers about the importance of melanoma research and set up a donation box for contributions.

Attendees could also buy a ticket to a dinner before the recital. Paul and his mother, Jenny Haarala, covered all costs of the meal so that all ticket proceeds would benefit UNC Lineberger.

Paul surpassed his $1,000 goal and in doing so proved he could make an important impact with the help of people in his community. Next year Paul will attend Furman University on a scholarship from the music department.