School: Sunrise Middle School
Synagogue: Congregation Beth Israel
Date of bar mitzvah: Aug. 25, 2012
Describe your mitzvah project: I am putting together a team to run in the 5K "I-Did-a-Green-Run" in Phoenix on Sept. 9, 2012. I am also trying to raise as much money as possible to donate to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN). I am asking friends and family to support me by donating money and/or running with me. I will also provide information about esophageal cancer to everyone who comes to my bar mitzvah. In addition, all the yarmulkes that will be worn in temple on the morning of my bar mitzvah will be periwinkle because that is the official color of esophageal cancer awareness.
Why did you choose to do this project? I am running to raise money and awareness for ECAN so other kids don't have to lose a parent or grandparent to esophageal cancer. I lost my grandfather, my "tata," Alex Vazquez, on Feb. 28, 2012. He was only 56 years old and he was one of my greatest friends. He died earlier than he should have and if the world had more people like him, everything would be brighter. I wanted to honor the most honorable man I knew.
Why did you choose to work with this organization? I am raising money to help ECAN raise awareness about esophageal cancer. ECAN helps raise awareness about the link between heartburn and cancer. My tata suffered from heartburn but he didn't know that heartburn can cause cancer. They caught Tata's cancer too late, but if people catch it early it is treatable. I want to support ECAN's effort to raise awareness and I want to let people know about ECAN's new free guide for patients which can be downloaded at ecan.org. This guide will help patients who suffer from heartburn talk to their doctors.
When did you start the project and how long will it take? I started this project in June when I was trying to decide how to honor my tata. The project will finish after I have completed the race on Sept. 9 and I have donated the funds.
Describe the work you've had to do for the project: I had to research to find an organization that I thought would help me make a difference and help me fight esophageal cancer. I then contacted the organization and decided with them what would be the best way to get involved.
How do you hope your project will affect the people it's designed to benefit? I hope that if I help raise awareness about the link between heartburn and cancer, no other kid will have to lose someone they love. I hope after reading information about esophageal cancer that I am providing at my bar mitzvah, someone will tell their doctor that they have suffered from heartburn and they will be screened for esophageal cancer - and they'll catch it before its too late. I hope I'll help kick cancer's tail!
What have you learned from the project? I have learned from talking to the people at ECAN that everyone can make a difference - even a 13-year-old boy. The people at ECAN believe their greatest weapon in the fight against esophageal cancer are ordinary people, like me, because all it takes is one person to tell a friend or family member that heartburn can cause cancer; that starts the process of catching the disease before it becomes the killer it usually is. I plan to tell everyone I know because I hate cancer!