Giving Back

Millburn Teen Honors Late Mother with 5K Run

Dranikoff Family Credits: Courtesy of Jeremy Dranikoff

MILLBURN, N.J. — Joanna Dranikoff spoke frequently of “marching forth” to her family as she fought colon cancer. As the second anniversary of her death, coincidentally on March 4, approaches her family looks to honor her like with the 5K March Fourth for Colon Cancer Prevention. The 5K will take place on Sunday, March 4 at The South Mountain Dog Park from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to aid in awareness and prevention. The link to sign up is

Dranikoff’s son, Jeremy, 16, shared the story of his family’s journey and the inspiration for the 5K Run. 

Two years ago on March Fourth, my mom, Joanna Dranikoff, died of Colon Cancer. She was diagnosed in the summer of 2014 while my sisters, Rebecca (now 14), Abby (now 12), and myself (now 16) were at sleepaway camp. Upon our return, our parents sat us down and broke the news. At this point, the disease was seemingly minor and we were told it would be solved in no more than a few months. As time went on, it became clear that this was not the case as her condition worsened. She died about a year and half later.

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My mom was brilliant, funny, and loving when she was alive. She often worked from home in order to take of us. She was hardworking, balancing her work with all of our schedules to be the best mom she could be, and she was incredible.  A couple of her favorite family traditions included our annual trip to Ocean City, NJ where she loved to take pictures, or mini golfing where she would celebrate when we got a hole-in-one. Her life revolved around her family and friends.

Her friends still tell me that she made each of them feel like her best friend because of how much she cared about each of them. Our family’s last big hurrah was my Bar Mitzvah in May of 2014, which was prior to her diagnosis and this was the last time we were problem-free as a family. Closer to her death she kept reiterating the idea of “marching forth” which was coincidentally fitting with her death on March fourth.

As we are holding this 5k is in honor of her life, which is why it is taking place on March Fourth, two years after her death. Rebecca had the idea of having a 5k to honor our mom toward the end of last year because she had already worked with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance for her Bat Mitzvah project the year before. Following that, I decided this was something I really wanted to do and with the help of my family, Faith Nashel, the Millburn Recreation Cross Country and Track and Field coach, and Naomi Panzer we were able to put this together. All proceeds go to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to aid in awareness and prevention. We are overwhelmed with the community’s response in helping us honor our mother with a generous amount of donations and attendance at the race. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

-Jeremy Dranikoff


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