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Go-Giver Of The Week: How One College Student Turned His Personal Tragedy Into An Opportunity To Give Back

As a high school student on Long Island, Guy Viner was highly accomplished, the kind of kid everyone could see was headed for a certain kind of success. Elected senior class president and passionate about studying languages (Mandarin, Italian and Spanish were his specialties), he won a State Department fellowship to study Chinese in Shanghai the summer after his senior year. His life was also touched by tragedy. When Viner was a teenager, both of his parents battled cancer, and when he was 15, his father passed away. Two years later, during his senior year, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and fortunately, she made a full recovery six months later.

Aside from causing Viner to grow up faster than many of his peers, these experiences fueled him with a passion for making connections, building community, and giving back to others. When he enrolled at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, studying organizational behavior, he sought opportunities –- including working as a research assistant with professor Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take” — that would enhance his ability to do good and make a lasting impact. And indeed, Viner has taken on a variety of projects designed to spread awareness and improve the lives of others.

Two years ago, Viner led a team of six students to raise over $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation — crushing the efforts of more than three dozen Harvard MBAscombined. And recently, he ran three races in one day — a mile, a 5K, and a half-marathon — to raise money for Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children whose parents have cancer, run by Penn students. Viner is, in the words of Penn classmate Lindsay Miller, “quite literally indefatigable.”



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