Written by Daniel Park, ‘21
On Sunday, April 28, Durham Academy’s a cappella group, XIV Hours opened for the Be Loud Sophie High School showcase. Bringing in a talented group of performers from Durham Academy, Chapel Hill High School and East Chapel Hill High School, Cat’s Cradle was filled with a symphony of music. The sounds ranged from junior Carl May belting out a Billy Joel song, East Chapel Hill High School’s Richard Yuan on the guitar, to Snack Time, a rock band made up of high school and college students.
This gathering of performers from around the Triangle was brought together to raise money and awareness for the Be Loud Sophie Foundation. This foundation operates with the singular goal of making the lives of children and their families easier in the face of cancer. Coming together in 2012, the foundation was created by Niklaus and Lucy Steiner, Chapel Hill parents who had recently lost one of their own daughters to cancer. Sharing her namesake, the Be Loud Sophie Foundation has worked to raise money in the effort to alleviate some of the struggles that plague many cancer patients and their families. The foundation’s hope is to give each child and family the same support and love that Sophie’s family was able to give her. On their website the foundation has shared the inspiring story that one of Sophie’s last wishes for her parents was to “do something to help other [...] kids who didn’t have the incredible support system of family and friends throughout UNC and Chapel Hill.” Now working alongside the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the foundation hopes to “give adolescents and young adults [...] living with cancer a greater sense of independence, dignity and identity.”
Sophie’s wish for better support in the healthcare system stems from some of the deficiencies in the current system. In hospitals many teens face a lack of support in terms of activities that cater to their interests. Speaking to the magnitude of their work and the need for more programs across the country, Annabel Steiner, one of Sophie’s sisters, describes that in the Be Loud Sophie Foundation’s relatively short time working, they are already close to “being the largest support foundation for adolescents with cancer across the country.”
The support system that the Be Loud Sophie Foundation provides consists of raising money to help fund professionally trained social workers to assist families and ensuring that these teens are not alone as they go through treatment.
However, this foundation would not exist without the the firm support of volunteers across the Triangle. With the help DA Head of School, Michael Ulku-Steiner, the DA Be Loud Sophie Club has helped raise thousands of dollars since 2012. Mr. Ulku-Steiner conveys his own personal inspiration to help Be Loud Sophie. “For about fifteen years, the Steiners have been dear family friends,” he said. Through this connection he describes Sophie as “brave, honest, hilarious, and soulful.”
Alongside their work with other schools, the Be Loud Sophie Club leaders, sophomores Lydia Norman and Caroline Aldridge, have worked tirelessly in our own Durham Academy community. During the week of April 29, they have held a fundraiser by selling balloons. Not only has the money raised by this gone to help support this cause, but students have even bought balloons for cancer patients to brighten up some of their hospital rooms. Caroline and Lydia have big plans for the future—whether they hold sock drives or bake sales, the Be Loud Sophie club is one to support.