Several weeks ago, I read a story in the Oregonian about a local boy who inspired donations of almost $25,000 for cancer research. Will Rosenfeld celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in May, 2009. He had lost several grandparents to cancer and had been particularly close to a grandfather who had died three years prior.
Prior to his bar mitzvah, he had asked his mom to arrange a tour of a local Providence cancer center. There he learned about a new drug called OX40 that was being researched to provide a better course of treatment for cancer patients. In his bar mitzvah speech, he shared with the 350 guests his personal history of how cancer had effected his family. He explained the drug OX 40 and it’s implications. He compared his grandparents enslavement of fighting cancer to the Torah portion he was reading that week. Somehow he found a connection in a thousand year old text to something personal in his own life. Guests from his bar mitzvah sent more than 140 gifts in honor of Will’s Bar Mitzvah. A few days after the Bar Mitzvah Providence Portland Medical Foundation had already collected close to $25,000.
I was blown away by this article and story. Will showed a maturity far beyond his age. His request inspired a substantial amount of donations. Most charity organizations have to plan significant fundraisers to effortlessly receive that sum of money. It is refreshing to see an adolescent forfeiting their own youthful desires to help others.
Mazel Tov, Will!