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Student takes on challenge to honor a friend lost to cancer

Daisha Campbell and her friend, Nick Konkler, were homecoming king and queen as Auburn Riverside High School seniors. Campbell, now a University of Washington freshman, is raising money for Cancer for College through the Miss Greek Pageant in a tribute to Konkler, who died of leukemia in 2015.  - Courtesy photo
Daisha Campbell and her friend, Nick Konkler, were homecoming king and queen as Auburn Riverside High School seniors. Campbell, now a University of Washington freshman, is raising money for Cancer for College through the Miss Greek Pageant in a tribute to Konkler, who died of leukemia in 2015.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Her friend didn't get to live out his dream.

But Daisha Campbell is helping others get that chance.

Campbell, an Auburn Riverside High School graduate and University of Washington freshman, is representing her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, to raise money for Cancer for College through the Miss Greek Pageant.

She drew inspiration to enter the pageant and charitable contest from her late high school friend, Nick Konkler, who succumbed to leukemia on Feb. 23, 2015. A self-described "car nut," Konkler was preparing to attend WyoTech in Sacramento, Calif., where he would learn the skills to pursue his dream job of fabricating automobile parts, at the time of his death.

Campbell and Konkler were honored as homecoming king and queen when they were Auburn Riverside seniors.

"Nick had the incredible ability to connect and inspire those around him," Campbell said. "The Auburn community came together in support of Nick and has also mourned a great loss since his passing. With Nick in mind, I decided to take on the challenge of raising money for a wonderful cause that gives back to young adults who have fought similar battles. Nick has inspired me, and I hope that he can inspire the community as well to rally in support of the amazing cause Cancer for College presents."

As of Dec. 28, the effort had raised about $1,500, with hopes of ultimately reaching $15,000 by the April deadline, Campbell said.

All proceeds go to Cancer for College, which, according to its website, has granted $2 million in scholarships since 1994 "to help those individuals who have been adversely affected by cancer and help them realize their dream of a college education."

When Campbell learned about the Miss Greek Pageant after her arrival at UW, she thought about how she could make an impact. The business major made her proposal with College for Cancer in mind. She was selected to represent Kappa Alpha Theta in November.

"It's a really unique charity," Campbell said. "I think it's a cause that goes unnoticed sometimes. It's such a burden and a hardship for families."

For Campbell, it has been a learning process. She wants to pursue a career in medical sales, and says the endeavor has helped her.

"It's really forced me to market myself and talk about what I'm doing," Campbell said. "That's really helpful. If I ever want to get into marketing, that would be really helpful."

But for now, it is a project to memorialize her friend.

"I would just love for people in the Auburn community to know that Nick was the inspiration for doing this," Campbell said. "It's all about raising money. The pageant is just the fun part."

The Miss Greek Pageant, one of the largest student-held philanthropic events at the UW, celebrates its 30th anniversary in April. The pageant – hosted by UW's Delta Tau Delta Fraternity – benefits Cancer for College. Contestants from multiple sororities vie for the Miss Greek title by competing in several categories, including fundraising, talent, philanthropic services and community awareness, and personality.

For more information, visit www.crowdrise.com/kappaalphatheta5.

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