While most adults have never heard of the condition multiple myeloma, one 12-year-old is organizing an event in an effort to raise both awareness and money toward fighting it through her Charity Dash.
Remi Zisselman, a sixth-grader at Herricks Middle School, will be hosting the fundraiser for her bat mitzvah project as an homage to her late grandfather who passed away from multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer, about 12 years prior.
“It’s important to me because my grandfather died of multiple myeloma, and I want to help out and raise money that will go to his cause,” said Remi. “I think people should know about the cause, and I wanted to bring running into it so that people can have fun while learning about it.”
During the event, which will take place on Saturday, June 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Herricks High School, participants can pay $20 to complete 200 meter dashes and win prizes. All money collected will go toward Mount Sinai Multiple Myeloma Program, a nonprofit organization based in New York City.
The prizes and auction items, some of which include an iPad, an Angelina’s pizza party and a custom soccer jersey, have all been donated by nearby businesses. Aside from local sponsors, the Zisselmans recently received word that the pharmaceutical company Celgene Corporation, a biotechnology company that develops and sells medicines for cancer and other disorders, will be donating $10,000 toward Remi’s cause.
“Remi set her goals high, got local and corporate sponsors and has been reaching out to local people with me. I think she wants to try to keep [her grandfather’s] memory alive, and seeing me working hard doing my event drove her to be involved somehow,” said Marc of Remi’s determination leading up to the event. Much of Remi’s decision to utilize her upcoming bat mitzvah as a way to give back to the Mount Sinai Multiple Myeloma Program stems from her dad’s ongoing involvement.
Since his father was first diagnosed with the disease in 2004, Marc began working with Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, a leading multiple myeloma charity, before branching out and forming his own Libations for Living to raise funds for the Mount Sinai Multiple Myeloma Program, which is run by his father’s former doctor, Dr. Sundar Jagannath. Money raised at his 2016 fundraiser was used by Jagannath to create a new research facility in Huntington.
Marc’s activism was not lost on his oldest daughter Lexi, now 15 years old, who also chose to focus her mitzvah project, Kick for a Cure, on the same program in 2014 through a soccer-oriented event, which raised $7,500 and amassed approximately 250 attendees.
Remi is optimistic that her Charity Dash will be met with the same level of success and is thankful that she has been granted the opportunity to fuse her passion for running with a charitable cause possessing great meaning to her and her family.
“Everyone is invited to come down, learn more about what multiple myeloma is and just have fun,” said Marc. “This has been a lot of work for Remi, but we’re all looking forward to it and hoping for the best.”