During a December meeting (at which I happened to be present), Edelson told students about his friend Alex, a 33-year-old father of twin boys, and a close friend of his. The two grew up in Greenwich together, and they were both in college in 2000, when Berman first learned he had Hodgkins Lymphoma. In the last dozen years, Berman has overcome the disease once, but when Edelson learned that his friend was once again in need of a bone marrow transplant, he decided to reach out to the school’s students for help.
The Rachel’s Challenge club serves to promote a culture of kindness at Turn of River, and throughout the community at large. Start a chain reaction, they say. So when Edelson asked the students for help, they were on it. In the last three months, the students have conceived, planned and organized a pancake breakfast — along with the help of their adviser Sharon Wade — which they will host this Saturday, March 31 at 8:30 a.m. in the school’s cafeteria, 117 Vine Road, Stamford. Tickets for the syrupy feast cost $10.
“I’ve never seen a group of kids do something like this before,” Edelson said Wednesday. “Out of the club, there’s only a handful that I actually have as students. And still a lot of them always come up to me all the time and ask me how (Berman) is doing and what he’s up to. They really care. And you know, as a teacher, sometimes it’s a little tough to open yourself up to personal things, but going to this club was a great experience.”
And there has been a chain reaction, he said.
“I think it’s pretty amazing. They were a huge influence. I’ve had students who are not even in Rachel’s Challenge ask how they an help. One student brought me his piggy bank of money to donate,” Edelson said.
And it’s spread throughout the community. Luigi’s Restaurant has set up a donation can, and will send all the money donated in the months of March and April to Berman. Others have donated items — from gift cards to knife blocks — to the cause to be raffled off Saturday morning. And for those who can’t attend the breakfast, there’s one more way to make a tax-deductible donation: contributions can be sent to the NFT New Jersey Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Alexander Berman” on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at www.transplants.org. Donors should select “Find or Become an NFT Patient” to locate Berman.
The money raised will go toward assistance with transplant-related services, like medications, hospital bills and travel expenses to Seattle, where Berman’s surgery will take place.