by Nathan Lerner

Mayor Michael Nutter congratulates Kyle Rosenberg, 13, for his fundraising efforts for colorectal cancer research at the “Get Your Rear in Gear Philadelphia” race in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps last Sunday. (Photos by Bonnie Grant)

He’s only 13 years old, but Kyle Rosenberg is already making important contributions to his community. The Plymouth Meeting resident was integrally involved in the “Get Your Rear in Gear Philadelphia,” sponsored by the Colon Cancer Coalition, that took place last Sunday. The imaginatively titled event was a fundraiser for colorectal cancer research. Starting at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps by the Rocky statue, the event involved both a 5K run/walk as well as a more daunting 10K component.

(Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. About 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and it affects men and women equally. Patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the early stages have a 90 percent chance for a cure and survival.)

Last year, in anticipation of his impending Bar Mitzvah, Kyle was looking for a special project, “I wanted to find something that had meaning to me.” Kyle’s grandfather and uncle had both passed away from colon cancer, and his mother, Randi, is a survivor of the disease. He explained, “I wanted to raise awareness for colon cancer because it has taken special people from my life. So I felt if I did the walk and raised money for research, more people would be aware and get their testing done on time.

“My biggest challenge was trying to figure out who I wanted to reach out to and the best way to do it. I decided to send an email out to my family and friends telling them why I was doing this walk and asked them to sponsor me.” His efforts paid off as he raised nearly $900 in sponsorship money. “One of my Bar Mitzvah gifts was a donation for $180 for me to pick the charity of my choice. I sent it to Dr. Scott Goldstein at Jefferson Hospital for colon cancer research since he is my mom’s doctor.

“It made me feel good that I could raise money to create awareness. It also made me think more about my mom and everything she had gone through. I know my grandfather would be so proud of me if he was here.”

Kyle’s mother is also quite proud. “It was wonderful that Kyle was able to collect money to fight this disease, and I was very happy to walk with him on the day of the event. It meant a lot to me that he wanted his mitzvah project to be about this. If there was ever something to signal how much your child cares about you, this was it.”

Kyle Rosenberg shows off an award he received at Sunday’s event. He was the recipient of the Inaugural Maude Daniels Award, named in honor of Maude Daniels, who resided most of her life in Philadelphia raising her seven children and extended family before moving to Vineland, NJ. Maude died of colon cancer at age 97 after dedicating her life to ministering to others. Kyle was recognized for inspiring very young people to be aware of colon cancer and early detection.

Kyle is mindful of the perils of colorectal cancer. “People should go to their doctors and have all the necessary tests. My mom has had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I watched her being sick. I wouldn’t want to see another one of my family members go through that. It’s important to get tested early and not put it off.”

Currently a seventh grader at Colonial Middle School, Kyle plans to stay involved with the “Get Your Rear in Gear Philadelphia” event for many years to come. “I hope to stay involved until a cure has been found!”

(Ed. Note: Kristin Tabor, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, founded the Colon Cancer Coalition to honor the memory of her sister, Susie Lindquist-Mjelde, a wife, mother of three young children and avid runner. Susie died of colon cancer in August of 2002 at 46. To honor her sister’s love of running, Kristin organized the first “Get Your Rear in Gear” 5K Run/Walk in Minneapolis in March, 2005. Kristin founded the Colon Cancer Coalition to fund and organize “Get Your Rear in Gear” events across the country and to partner with other existing colon cancer organizations. This year, Colon Cancer Coalition events were held in over 30 locations around the country, including Philadelphia.)

Nathan Lerner is actively involved in civic and cultural affairs. He welcomes feedback at  mailto: