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July 22, 2010 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-07-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

bat mitzvah
project of a
Relay for Life
kids' team keeps

Haley Nathan and Rachel

Hollander at the 2007

West Bloomfield Relay for Life


hen preparing
for a b'nai mitz-
vah, most teens
go through the same pro-
cess of deciding which proj-
ect to do. Little did I know
my mitzvah project would
begin by being woken up
and dragged out of bed
early one Sunday morning
to be a part of my first Re-
lay For Life. Relays like this
raise money for the Ameri-
can Cancer Society.
As I walked the track of
West Bloomfield High School
on that morning in June 2006,
I noticed that all the teams
were organized, run and
sponsored by adults. Also, I
thought of my friend, Haley
Nathan of West Bloomfield,
who was diagnosed with rab-
domyosarcoma cancer the
previous summer at age 6.
Haley went through endless
weeks of chemotherapy and
radiation; her fighting spirit
and determination inspired
me to create my own relay
team as my mitzvah project.
This would be no ordinary
team. It would be a team cre-
ated, operated and supported
by kids and teens to be called
Kids Conquering Cancer.
Fast forward to June 2010.
Kids Conquering Cancer
completed its fourth Relay
for Life. Each year, our team
grows in size and spirit. This
year, we had more than 300
children, teens and adults
proudly walking the track in
our turquoise T-shirts. From
toddlers to teens, we sold ice
cream, made friendship brace-

lets, promoted a healthy
cancer-free lifestyle and
walked mile after mile to
raise money to fight this
horrible disease.
Throughout the day,
my friends and I deco-
rated luminary bags as
a way to honor and re-
member those who have
been touched by cancer.
(I don't understand why
everyone says "touched"
by cancer. I feel that
is too gentle of a word.
What about "beat up"?)
As the sun set, the
atmosphere around the
track changed from joy-
ous to solemn as the lu-
minary ceremony com-
menced. We walked the
At the 2009 West Bloomfield Relay for Life: Haley Nathan, 10, Rachel Hollander, 14,
track in silence, watch-
Ally Nathan, 6, Ari Hollander, 11, and Andrew Nathan, 10
ing the candles flicker in
each bag. I think about
the memories I have of those skiing trip Up North last win- ey, Kids Conquering Cancer
who have died from cancer ter with Haley and her family, team members are always en-
and the memories that I have we all designed and decorated thusiastic and optimistic. We
created from being involved buttons that would be sold at have been recognized each
year by receiving the Best
in Relay for Life.
At Relay For Life this year Team Spirit Award.
Relay for Life is always a
Kids Conquering Cancer is
meaningful 24 hours, but this as I displayed those buttons to
year, the significance and im- sell, I kept looking at the ones proof that the meaningfulness
portance increased. Six weeks that Haley created. I realized of a mitzvah project can be in-
before the 2010 Relay, Haley that in the end, cancer may tensified when it is extended
died after a long, hard-fought have taken Haley from us, but past your b'nai mitzvah. A
battle with cancer. She had the her spirit will never be taken mitzvah project can grow into
something that can inspire
spirit of an 11-year-old, but from Relay.
Over four years, Kids Con- others and that will stay with
was wise beyond her years.
Cancer raised more you the rest of your life. }
Haley taught me the value of

celebrating life and living ev-
ery day to the fullest.
To prepare for Relay, Hal-
ey, her siblings Andrew and
Ally, my brother Ari and I
spent countless hours plan-
ning, decorating posters and

than $47,000 for the Ameri-
can Cancer Society. It is excit-
ing to see that what started out
as a simple mitzvah project
has grown into one of the top
fundraising teams at the West
Bloomfield Relay for Life.


Hollander, 15,

is a sophomore

at Harrison

High In



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