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Gold Award Girl Scout unites cancer survivors with book of encouragement


St. Louis, MO – August 27, 2018 ─ Lauren Vanlandingham, a senior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. By earning the award, Vanlandingham exemplifies a leader who has transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a measurable and sustainable impact. Vanlandingham was recognized with other Gold Award Girl Scouts during a ceremony at Lindenwood University in St. Charles this summer.

The compassion Vanlandingham received from friends and neighbors when two of her family members were diagnosed with cancer left a lasting impact. The support and sense of community she felt inspired Vanlandingham to write  “Stories of Hope, Be the Light.” The book features profiles of 10 individuals with cancer and includes photographs and words of advice for families currently fighting the disease.

Vanlandingham spoke with people at different stages of cancer and with various diagnoses, capturing how the disease affects all ages. From a young dancer with Neuroblastoma, a cancer that forms in nerve cells found in the embryo or fetus, to a grandmother diagnosed with breast cancer, Vanlandingham said she noticed a common thread of family, hope and strength in the face of fear during her interviews.

“I felt like my Gold Award project brought people together,” Vanlandingham said. “When people read my book, they realize that someone has been exactly where they have been and has survived.”

Copies of Vanlandingham’s book have been distributed through a local organization that provides support for cancer patients and their families, and are available for purchase on Amazon. This G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) TM  said proceeds raised are used to print and donate more books to doctors’ offices and oncology centers across the nation.

The Gold Award represents the culmination of more than 80 hours of work on a project that is important to each girl. Approximately one million Girl Scouts in ninth through 12th grade have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.

A young woman who has earned the Gold Award is a community leader. Gold Award Girl Scouts report a more positive sense of self, are more engaged civically and in community service, have more confidence in their leadership abilities, and experience greater life satisfaction and success relative to their non-Gold Award peers. Some of the benefits of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are:

  • Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the US Armed Forces
  • Earning scholarships from colleges and universities
  • Recognition from many government and non-profit organizations

Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as part of Girl Scouts. To join Girl Scouts or learn more about volunteering, please visit