Carrie Hamerslag has been an advocate of Dr. Inder Verma, a professor in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, where he specialized in gene therapy research since January 2000. Carrie is presently initiating and implementing her own program to raise dollars for the Salk Institute. Responding to the threat of cancer in her immediate family, this remarkable 15-year old was determined to make something positive out of a negative when her mother was initially misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Carrie took on the enormous task of researching and raising funds to assist in cancer research through an event she created, “Art for a Cure”, where the art of her mother created during her distressing time was auctioned off in November of last year. This fundraising took months to plan and orchestrate, which was apparent from the incredible success of the event. Her efforts raised more than $60,000 to date. The Salk set up a Carrie Hamerslag Research Fund in her honor. The current funds raised which enabled the Salk Institute to hire 2 postdoctoral fellows to work on gene therapy research as it relates to cancer with Dr. Verma.
As if this single endeavor was not enough for this young lady, she currently also volunteers 70 to 100 hours per summer at the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter in Rancho Santa Fe, California. She volunteers her time at the Door of Hope (Salvation Army), which is a community of unwed teenage mothers where she cares for the children. She is also currently implementing a program for teenage suicide prevention week seeking dollars from local businesses to support the cause. Last year Carrie won the Mission Bell Award for her work at the Helen Woodward Center and is eligible again this year. She has received no stipends or salary for her efforts in promoting a cure for cancer through the Salk Institute.
As a sophomore in high school, her schedule consists of two advanced placement classes and two honors program courses. Carrie is a Peer Assistant Listener (PAL) at her school, counseling peers that have problems. She is a member of the Key Club, an international community service club. Carrie was awarded the local television Channel 10’s Leadership Award on January 31, 2001.
When Carrie was 12, she saved up her allowances for a year to donate to the Make A Wish Foundation. This contribution was used to give a dying girl with leukemia her dream to visit Disneyland.