News & Events

The 54-4-54 Challenge

Date: 7/8/2011

Janet Kaplan and Michelle Rich, co-chairs of the Social Action Committee at Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen, New Jersey, are on a mission to save lives. The women have worked closely with Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, helping to organize three drives just this year. Michelle and Janet are leaders in their community teaching others the importance of getting tested and the need to increase the number of volunteer donors in the registry.

Both women are aware of the high value of life, and it is because of that realization that they have seen the significance of raising awareness in their community.  Janet’s inspiration for organizing donor drives is to increase the number of donors, particularly Ashkenazi Jews, in the registry.  She recognizes the importance of building this particular pool of potential donors, which is relatively small, and knows the importance of practicing and educating others about tikkun olam.

Recently, however, Janet and Michelle have been yearning to do more and last month, they contemplated their next step in helping those who suffer from leukemia, lymphoma, and other potentially fatal diseases. In May of 2011, they attended Gift of Life’s 11th Annual Partners for Life Gala, and received inspiration for their next step. At the Gala, they learned that thousands of donor kits are on a waitlist, unprocessed, and waiting the necessary funding to cover the lab costs associated with testing.

Michelle had a chilling thought: What if someone’s match was just lying around, waiting?  The same idea ran through Janet’s mind, “The thought that a person who is desperately in need of a lifesaving transplant might lose their fight because their donor’s life-giving DNA was unable to be processed was overwhelming to both of us.” Because neither could live with these thoughts, they decided to take action.

For them, the call to action was simple – The 54-4-54 challenge.  Their goal is to find 54 people, to sponsor 54 donors from the waitlist, at $54 per test kit.  Janet and Michelle, two remarkable women, have seen a need and have risen to the occasion to help.  Their commitment and drive to saving lives is undeniable and inspiring.

Interested in bringing the 54-4-54 challenge to your community?  Email mfreund@giftoflife.org or call 561.982.2946.

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