Thirteen-year-old Jacob Don knows first hand that the most important gift you can give anyone is the gift of life, so it was very easy for him to decide on his Mitzvah Project.
Russell Don, his father was given the gift of life two years ago, when Dr. Harry Ramras, an Orthodox dentist from Woodmere, Long Island was identified as a bone marrow match. Thankfully, Dr. Ramras had participated in his Synagogue’s bone marrow drive seven years earlier. Flash forward to 2007 when Russell was diagnosed with leukemia and in six months time he was matched with Dr. Harry Ramras through the Be The Match registry.
Jacob, a seventh-grader at Solon Middle School outside of Cleveland celebrated his Bar Mitzvah celebration on April 24th and is very grateful his entire family, including his Dad was there to enjoy this special occasion.
We spoke to Jacob about his Mitzvah Project and how he wanted to help others who might be in his Dad’s situation.
MM: Why did you decide to take on this particular project/charity?
JD: My Dad had a bone marrow transplant and I want people who need a donor to get a donor just like my Dad did!
MM: In your own words, what does it mean to you to do a Mitzvah Project for your Bar Mitzvah?
JD: It means to help other people and contribute to a good cause.
MM: Can you give us details of your Mitzvah Project?
JD: I held a bone marrow drive that had people signing up for the bone marrow registry so they can find out if they can become someone who can be a donor for someone who needs bone marrow. It’s very easy, you just need a cheek swab, there is no taking blood.
MM: How did you spread the word about the bone marrow drive?
JD: I had newspapers write articles on my project and contacted TV and radio stations. I also put up flyers and posters.
MM: You had the drive a few weeks ago, how did you do?
JD: The drive was a great success. We had 87 people come down to register and we just heard from our local tv station that another 6 registered too. Over 100 of our friends and people in the community drove in, biked and came by foot to offer support. We had expected 8 volunteers, over 20 showed up!
The local NBC station in Cleveland, WKYC-TV did a story on us “live” from the bone marrow drive. See that video here.
We also got publicity via the local paper, The Solon Times. Read that story here.
When Harry Met Lolly: The Story Of A Bone Marrow Hero!
Jacob’s Aunt works for the Jim Henson Company. They filmed Dr. Harry Ramras in their Long Island workshop for this video explaining how easy it is to be a bone marrow donor. Leslie Carrera, the Sesame Street Puppeteer, used her puppet, Lolly to interview Harry.
Donor Dr. Harry Ramras with Lolly. Watch the video here!
MM: For how long can people donate to this charity:
JD: My drive is now over but you can donate anytime to “Be The Match.”
We would like to congratulate Jacob on his recent Bar Mitzvah and thank him for sharing this great Mitzvah project story with Mitzvah Market.