Helping Hand

Chaska High School’s Tommy Costello gives back through Birthday Buddies and other activities.

Most high school students don’t have to face their own mortality, but when Chaska High School senior Tommy Costello was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, it changed his whole perspective. “You figure out what’s important in life and not,” says Costello, who has been in remission since February 2013. “You stop worrying about acne and friends and parties on weekends.”

What became important to Costello was finding ways to give back to his community. He’s the co-chairperson of the Relay for Life of Eastern Carver County. He started a national program called Birthday Buddies, which sends high school students to assisted living homes with a birthday cake and card to celebrate birthdays for residents. He also became a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, after taking a trip to Rome with his family through the organization, and is active in Pennies for Patients. “You feel obligated to go out and help everyone you can,” he says.

That’s not to say Costello is not active at high school. He challenges himself academically by taking Advanced Placement classes. He’s also the captain of Knowledge Bowl and Quiz Bowl and is the vice president of his school’s DECA chapter. Oh, and he has a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and finished his junior year with a 4.0 GPA.

After he graduates, Costello plans to study “something in the humanities” in college and wants to pursue a master’s degree at some point, but he’s ready to see what life has in store in terms of figuring out the specifics. “We’ll see what hand I get dealt,” he says. “I’m going in with an open mind.”