LIVINGSTON, NJ — For the third year in a row Millburn Residents came out in force to support the efforts of March Fourth, a charity event dedicated to raising funds for the colorectal cancer alliance.
Sunday's event was held on the campus of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School/Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, which was hosting the event for the second consecutive year. All told, the group raised some $65,000 dollars in donations at this year's event.
Siblings Jeremy, Rebecca and Abby Dranikoff were incredibly thankful for all the support from the community. The event began after their mother, Joanna passed away from colon cancer several years ago. Since then, the trio has worked tirelessly each year with a number of passionate volunteers to bring the event to life every year.
"My sister Rebecca, who's currently 16, she had this idea when she was 13 years old that she wanted to honor our mom Joanna, who died of colon cancer in 2016." Jeremy Dranikoff said. "And the summer before our first race, she was like, 'I want to do something to honor her, what can we do.? Let's do a 5k.' And I was like 'Okay, that seems pretty doable.'"
As Dranikoff explained, his father, other members of the Dranikoff Family and family friend Faith Nashel were instrumental in putting the inaugural event on. For the past two years, including this year, the event has been held on the Kushner campus.
The first year's event was actually held on March 4, thus the namesake for the fundraiser. Jeremy said there were two reasons why the organizers tacked on physical fitness activities after the 5k.
"Our first reason was because of weather," he said. "We really wanted to make sure everybody got the full experience, was able to do something with their family and have a lot of fun ... We [also] did it to make sure everybody had a really good experience and really just had a lot of fun, be fit, and remember to get tested for colon cancer."
"I really can't describe how much support we've gotten," Dranikoff said. "My friends, my family, everybody who knows anything about us has really come out, and people that don't know us come out and show their support, and it's really amazing what people can do."
As for what he wanted people to know about colon cancer, Jeremy said that it is one of the most deadly cancers, but can also be one of the most treatable if found early and removed.
Jeremy also thanked the Kushner campus for letting the siblings host the event on the premises, and acknowledged that his siblings Rebecca and Abby were enormously impactful in co-organizing the event.
Kushner campus assistant principal Gary Berger was on the premises as one of the volunteers for the event.
"It's been very exciting for us, because it's one of our students [organizing it]," Berger said. "Rebecca Dranikoff ... is a tenth grader here. And in her first year in ninth grade, she started a new club, called Kushner Kids Against Cancer. And the school was absolutely supportive of it from the beginning, and when it turned into this, we're so thankful for having her.
"Sometimes you need a kid, need a student to bring something to the attention of our school administrators, and more importantly to the world."
The coordination of the March Fourth 2020 was made possible by a large group of volunteers, who worked to organize every aspect. They were Shari Brandt, Heather Adelman, Jake Panzer, Naomi Panzer, Charlie Guevara, Rebecca Dranikoff, Jeremy Dranikoff, Gary Berger, Sarah Guttmann, Hannah Grossman, Zoe Panzer, Audra Berger, Lexi Berger, Abby Dranikoff and Lee Dranikoff.