September 23, 2019

Cancer research is this teen’s cause

When she was 11 years old, Morgan Davidson made a promise to her dying grandmother, Barbara Klass, that she would help others who suffered from lymphoma, the cancer that eventually took her grandmother’s life. With her determination and vivacious personality — and a propensity to dress up in a Life Savers candy costume — she has spent her young life doing just that.

Not that this came as a big surprise to those who know her best. Davidson’s parents, Arlene and Gary, have actively instilled in their three children the importance of helping others. At the age of 8, Davidson stood with her parents outside of Costco collecting money for Hurricane Katrina victims. For her bat mitzvah project, she organized Cuts for a Cure, an event at an Encino beauty salon that raised close to $29,000 for research at City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center. 

In 2012, Davidson founded a student group at Calabasas High School called Ambassadors for Hope Club. Her goal was to increase awareness about blood cancers through community blood drives, to organize fundraisers for critical research at City of Hope and to recruit bone marrow and stem cell donors for the Be the Match registry. She formed a second chapter at New Community Jewish High School when she changed schools, and at this point the club has raised more than $47,000 and registered more than 325 people for Be the Match. 

Davidson’s leadership efforts were recognized this summer, as she became one of the 15 recipients of the prestigious Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. The honor from the Helen Diller Family Foundation targets young, exceptional leaders who are actively engaged in projects focused on repairing the world and comes with $36,000 to further winners’ philanthropic work or their education. 

NAME: Morgan Sarah Davidson 

AGE: 16

SCHOOL: Senior at New Community Jewish High School in West Hills

CONGREGATION: Temple Judea in Tarzana

HOMETOWN: Woodland Hills

INSPIRATION: My community as a whole — parents, my family, friends and my mentors. I take away something from anybody I interact with.

FIVE WORDS TO DESCRIBE HERSELF: Quirky, outgoing, creative, compassionate, generous

BEST PART OF FOUNDING AMBASSADORS FOR HOPE: It’s helped me grow as a person and forced me to look at life under a different microscope. It’s made me look at what I value in life and what that would mean to me if all of it were taken away. The biggest thing it’s shown me is that I can make a difference.

MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE: The world doesn’t revolve around you all the time. It’s a community, and it’s important for us, as humans, to be aware of each other. You can make a difference in any organization that you have a passion about, and you can change the world if that’s what you set your mind to. Build a good team to back you up, and, most of all, you have to enjoy what you are doing!