A mother’s diagnosis inspires her son’s bar mitzvah project

Brandi and Ben Goldenberg

Following his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, 13-year-old Ben Goldenberg set an ambitious goal for his bar mitzvah project — raising $10,000 for Northern Westchester Hospital’s Bruce and Andrea Yablon Cancer Health and Wellness Program and its Breast Health Initiative for Underserved Women.

Brandi Goldenberg was diagnosed in 2016 and the family is thankful her cancer was found at an early stage thanks to her annual imaging screenings.

“The Yablon Center is where I received the benefit of wellness programs like massage, reflexology and nutrition,” said Ms. Goldenberg. “It’s a really wonderful program serving women who have breast cancer.”

Ben organized a March Madness three-on-three basketball tournament because he loves the sport. He invited all his friends and teammates to participate. Ben, Ms. Goldenberg and Ben’s father, Adam, got the word out through Instagram, Facebook and email.

The $25 registrations poured in to the GoFundMe page that supported Northern Westchester Hospital, resulting in 105 participants in fifth through eighth grades. Others gave monetary donations to honor Ben’s bar mitzvah at Bet Torah Synagogue in Mount Kisco, New York.

While Ben’s parents thought he should set a more realistic goal, when the basketball tournament ended, he had raised $18,000.

“I was shocked by how the community had my back,” said Ben. “They were there for me.” The New Castle Youth Basketball Association donated the gym time for tournament day and sent coaches an email advertising the tournament. A friend of Mr. Goldenberg’s who was formerly a DJ provided music for the event and older students served as referees. Ben’s older sister Gabi and her friends ran a bake sale that raised another $450.

“I hope my donation helps people like my mom find breast cancer early so it doesn’t develop into something bigger,” said Ben. The funds will enable women to receive screening and treatment services they may otherwise have been unable to afford.

Ben and his family said they hope to make the tournament a yearly event in support of the excellent services offered at Northern Westchester Hospital.


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