By Geoffrey Alintoff, Marlboro, New Jersey
As my friends and family know, I play guitar and LOVE music! Music has inspired me in so many ways and in fact, helped me choose my mitzvah project.
On March 8, 2014, my mom and dad took me and my sister to see one of our favorite bands, Imagine Dragons, at the Izod Center in New Jersey. The concert was amazing and inspiring.
During the concert, the lead singer, Dan Reynolds gave a heartfelt speech about his friend, a teenager named Tyler Robinson,
who had recently passed away from cancer. Dan told the audience that he met Tyler in 2011 when Tyler and his brother, Jesse were at an Imagine Dragons concert. Jesse sent Dan an email that night asking him to give Tyler a shout out during Tyler’s favorite song, “It’s Time,” because one line in the song, “The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell,” helped Tyler get through some of his most difficult days. Dan dedicated “It’s Time” to Tyler that night, and so began their friendship.
During his speech at the Izod Center, Dan described Tyler as an incredible kid, who, despite the adversity he was facing, was
always positive. Unfortunately, on March 4, 2013, at the age of 17, Tyler lost his battle with cancer. To honor Tyler and continue his legacy, Imagine Dragons together with the Robinson Family started the Tyler Robinson Foundation (TRF) to help families cover some of the costs of childhood cancer. After Dan finished his speech, I knew immediately that I had discovered the perfect mitzvah project for me that would combine my love of music and my desire to help children and families.
I reached out to TRF and told them my intentions and Tyler’s brother (and TRF president) Jesse wrote back excited about my project. I immediately got to work.
I set up a Website for friends and family to make donations. I also made TRF car magnets and began selling them outside local stores with the help of several friends who I call my team of “Cancer Slayers.”
In September, the preschool I attended, Congregation Sons of Israel Preschool and Kindergarten in Manalapan, NJ, had a dance party in honor of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and all proceeds were donated to TRF to support my mitzvah project. On January 25, 2015 my music school, Music University in Freehold, NJ, will host “Music From the Heart,” a benefit concert/fun day, complete with a gift basket raffle with all proceeds going to TRF.
The mission of TRF is to help families with the “unseen costs” of childhood cancer. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, oftentimes a parent needs to quit their job to care for their child. Sometimes families have to travel far from their homes to access the best treatment and some medications are not covered by insurance. Plus there are many more unanticipated costs. An already stressful time becomes even more stressful when a family has to struggle to pay their bills and make ends meet. TRF’s goal is to help alleviate the financial strain of childhood cancer, so families can focus on what matters most: each other. The Tyler Robinson Foundation provides a TRF representative and a financial planner or their grantee families so they receive both emotional and financial support and education.
I was so passionate about raising a lot of money and awareness for TRF that my whole family got involved and wanted to help. At a hedge fund conference my Dad attended, he nominated TRF in a Twitter-based contest, to win a media grant of up
to a million dollars. TRF was one of three winners.
My Mom has promoted my fundraising efforts on social media and helped me plan my magnet sales and other events. My sister, Naomi is part of my team and has helped me at all the fundraising events.
As a result of our family’s efforts and dedication, the president of TRF invited our family to sit on their Board of Directors. It is a privilege to be a part of TRF and sit alongside the members of Imagine Dragons and some really amazing people who work incredibly hard so TRF can help families battling pediatric cancer. Most importantly, I am honored to be helping families who are in great need of our assistance.
I have already raised almost $8,000 and I hope to raise much more by my Bar Mitzvah in February 2015. Every penny I raise
will go directly to a TRF grantee family.
I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for families dealing with a child who has cancer. I hope that my efforts help them at their most difficult times. I also hope that other kids will be inspired to look at their mitzvah project as an opportunity to form a long-term relationship with a charity in which they truly believe. I am incredibly humbled by all the people who have donated and supported me and TRF and I look forward to being a part of the Tyler Robinson Foundation for a long time to come.
Geoffrey Alintoff, 12, is a 7th grader at Marlboro Middle School. You can learn more about The Tyler Robinson Foundation at www.trf.org.
This story is from new 2014 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.