Decatur’s Ruby Kaufman, 12, loves to dance. Perhaps it’s is her love of dancing that powered her through a tough battle when she was diagnosed April 17, 2015 with soft-tissue cancer in her sinuses.
It’s also because of her love of dancing that Kaufman helps other children battling the same form of cancer she once had.
Kaufman was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer in the soft tissue.
As part of her Bat Mitzvah, Kaufman hosted a dancing fundraiser event. Initially, the goal was to raise $50,000 for childhood cancer research, she said. But when all said and done, Kaufman raised more than $68,000 for Rhabdomyosarcoma research.
Ruby’s Dance ‘Till You Drop fundraiser, held at The Temple in Atlanta, came with donated food items, face painting stations and a live DJ.
“The event was amazing,” Kaufman said. “There was a lot of lights and a lot of cool groups came. It almost looked like a Bat Mitzvah party. We had an amazing DJ. It was a really great day.”
Kaufman’s event raised $65,481 for childhood cancer research and received more than $2,000 in donations after the event’s conclusion. More than 200 people registered for the Dance ‘Till you Drop fundraiser.
Despite the size of Kaufman’s Mitzvah—or good deed—she said it’s the thought that’s important.
“It doesn’t really matter what you do. Every Mitzvah matters compared to all the other ones,” Kaufman said. “It’s not about the size of it.”
Christine Kaufman, Ruby’s mother, said she was amazed to see how much the Decatur community supported her daughter. Christine said Ruby wanted to host a fundraising event two months into treatment.
Ruby’s treatment included 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 28 days of proton radiation, more than 150 days in the hospital and three surgeries.
The proceeds from Ruby’s fundraiser went to the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, a non-profit organization that uses volunteers to raise money for cancer research and efforts to find treatments with fewer long-term side effects and cures, according to the organization’s website.
“When [Ruby] first met [representatives of] Rally, she was introduced to the fundraising world. It’s something she didn’t really understand as a 10-year-old,” Christine said. “This was her first introduction to charity work.”
Christine said watching her daughter battle cancer was difficult. Watching other families battle childhood cancer is what caused Christine to concentrate her time and money to help find a cure, she said.
“This is a testament to our community. We wanted to focus on childhood cancer because that’s where our passion is. We’ve learned so much about how this horrific, underfunded childhood cancer world is,” Kaufman said. “We met a lot of people that didn’t have the family and friend support that we have. We met people that didn’t have the financial means to support themselves. It was really hard to see.”
A portion of the funds Ruby has raised for the Rally Foundation will be used to support Dr. Eleanor Chen’s research on rhabdomyosarcoma. Chen, doing research at the University of Washington, titled her research project “Epigenetic Silencing of Myogenesis in Rhabdomyosarcoma.”
Ruby said she will not turn Ruby’s Dance ‘Till You Drop fundraiser into an annual event. She does, however, plan to continue fundraising through the Rally organization along with her mother.
“To know your child has cancer is one of the hardest things you can go through. That’s one of the reasons me and my husband continue to donate,” Christine said.
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