By: Jason Cohen
A Millburn family raised $40,000 for colon cancer last month.
On March 4, the Dranikoff family, in conjunction with Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, held the 5K Run for Colon Cancer research. In 2016, Joanna Dranikoff died from stage IV colon cancer at age 46.
In an effort to educate people about the disease and honor their mother, her children, Jeremy, 17, a senior at Millburn High School, Rebecca, 14, a freshman at Kushner and Abby, 13, a seventh grader at Millburn Middle School, organized the event.
The fundraiser was held last year at the South Mountain Reservation in South Orange, but Rebecca explained they wanted more than just a 5k this year. The goal was to have something that appealed to people of all ages.
In addition to the 5K, there was Zumba, self-defense, yoga, cardio dance, baseball, lacrosse and volleyball, Krav Maga and a giant inflated colon sponsored by St. Barnabas Hospital that people could walk through. This variety of activities saw a spike in 200 people and $10,000 raised more than last year.
With 500 people in attendance, Rebecca feels it was a big success.
“It’s very comforting to know that there’s so many people that are willing to help with our cause and support our family,” Dranikoff said.
Dranikoff reminisced about her mom. She said the two of them were very close and her mom was “witty, silly, smart, loyal and loving.”
In addition to attending Kushner, her uncle Gary Berger is the assistant principal there. Berger explained that his sister-in-law’s death hit the family hard. In fact, when they discovered she had cancer, it was revealed it had actually been in her body for 10 years. According to the American Cancer Society, the recommended screening age for colon cancer is 45.
Colon cancer is the third deadliest cancer for men and women in the U.S. and is expected to cause 50,000 deaths this year. However, it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early.
“The whole purpose of the event is to get more people aware of the idea of colon cancer and get more people screened at a younger age,” Berger said. “It’s emotional for the family, but emotional in a good way.”
Dranikoff hopes it becomes an annual event. In addition to hosting the fundraiser, she and her friend, Sivan Elisha, also started the Kushner Cancer Club in September. In the spring, the club will host a catwalk for cancer at the Short Hills Mall.
By: Jason Cohen