August 11, 2020
"I'm just really happy that I'm able to make a difference and want to show that Asian Americans are with health care workers and we want to unite," Sebastian Lu says

Sebastian Lu, a 17-year-old pianist in Fairfax, Virginia, who despite having his junior interrupted by COVID-19, decided not to sit on the sidelines, but was motivated to help others impacted by the pandemic by launching a GoFundMe campaign.

As Sebastian prepares for his senior year of high school, we recently had an opportunity to chat with him and have him share how he came to get involved in the coronavirus relief effort.

What inspired you to launch a fundraiser to help in relief efforts for COVID-19?

My aunt, a pediatric doctor in New York City, and my uncle, who manages the crisis in San Francisco have witnessed firsthand the devastating effect caused by this virus in hospitals. COVID-19 has created turbulences that have rippled across the nation to families near and far. While I may not be able to support hospitals and those affected in person, I want to lend help any way I can. I’ve been working to find ways to support the individuals and families that have been affected by COVID-19.

Why did you choose to donate to Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 Response Fund?

I have chosen the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, specifically its COVID-19 Response Fund because I want to start by making a more immediate and local impact on this wonderful community. During my research, I found that a great portion of the grantees of the COVID-19 Response Fund aligns with my fundraising goal.

What did your friends and family say when you told them about the fundraiser?

The response to my fundraising effort has been overwhelmingly positive. Donations came from the East and West coast from donors who don’t even live or have any family living in the Northern Virginia area. They simply understood my mission and urgency. What moved me the most is that quite a few of my friends used their own allowances towards this effort. Some even prompted and persuaded their parents to get involved to support this cause.

Why was this important to you?

My junior year ended then just as Spring Break began. There was no prom, no more Fencing Summer Nationals, nor a chance for my Robotics/Drone team to compete for that first-place trophy this year.

COVID-19 has changed our daily lives. Do you have concerns as you prepared for the upcoming school year?

Although online distance learning keeps me engaged academically, I can’t shake the sense of despair and fear. Fear that my family and friends may get sick, fear that this virus is here to stay, fear that my life will simply be different from this point forward. As a teen, this has been a profoundly confusing time. I was at a crossroads of being sheltered in a comfy suburban home and yet feeling that I need to strike out on my own somehow.
Any final thoughts?

Seeing my aunt fighting her battle in New York day in and day out trying to save lives really struck a chord with me. I truly wanted to contribute in any way I can, to even bring a small bit of change if possible. This marks my very first step towards philanthropic work. Although the fundraising goal is modest, the process and the result has given me an outlet on behalf of all of the teenagers who are coping through this crisis. Even though we may not be able to contribute physically, our voices and our actions can bring healing.

The COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia was established to provide flexible funding resources for nonprofit organizations and other programs in our region responding to COVID-19 and its impacts. To enjoy Sebastian's music click here. If you like we encourage you to share.