Windsor program that teaches children to fight back against cancer and other painful illness through martial arts wants help in making their founder the CNN Hero of the year.
“The key of Kids Kicking Cancer is that rather than being victims of disease, the children actually become teachers. They’re victors,” said program founder and choi kwang-do black belt Elimelech Goldberg, referred to by most as “Rabbi G.”
Goldberg is currently a CNN Heroes finalist for his work in creating and expanding Kids Kicking Cancer.
The Kids Kicking Cancer program uses martial arts to help children take their mind of the painful illness. Along with studying martial arts, the children are taught breathing and meditation techniques to help them ease the pain of cancer and its treatments.
“Martial arts is really about the cognitive capacity, the mental ability to face down whatever’s facing us,” Goldberg said.
A demonstration of the program at the Ciociaro Club on Sunday afternoon was to bring attention to the program, as well as to Goldberg being one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2014, which recognizes individuals for changing communities and providing humanitarian aid. Currently as a top 10 finalist, he is guaranteed a $25,000 award that will go towards his charity. If he wins first place, that number jumps to $100,000.
Andrea Orr, a member of the program’s Canadian board of directors, said that it would also go a long way to helping the program’s outreach.
Kids Kicking Cancer was started in 1991 by Goldberg, a rabbi and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine who lost his first child to leukemia at the age of two.
It first served Michigan in the Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw areas. Its first international expansion was in Windsor, which now helps 50 children in the Windsor-Essex area.
“We believed in it from the moment it started,” said Transition to Betterness co-founder Doris Lapico. Transition to Betterness helped bring the program to Windsor in 2010.
Lapico said that the program helps more than just the cancer patients. “It allows children to participate that are not only battling cancer, but their siblings,” she said. “A lot of the times we leave the sibling out of the occasion because we’re so focused on the child.”
The program expanded to London in 2012 and since then has helped more than 150 children and expanded to a community program. It and other programs in hospitals have started helping children with other painful diseases.
Since coming to Canada, the martial arts program has also expanded to New York, Los Angeles and Gainesville, Fla., in the U.S. It has also increased its international expansion, starting up in Italy and Israel.
Voting for CNN Heroes closes Nov. 16.
Originally published in the Windsor Star.