Driven by their parents’ battles with cancer, three teens unite to raise money for research
By Alessandra G. Albis
Photography by Sonya Revell
Jackson Parke, Elijah Nelson and Ben Silverstein
ifelong friends Jackson Parke, Elijah Nelson and Ben Silverstein take fundraising for better cancer treatments and cures to heart.
Bonded by their parents’ experiences with cancer, the three 15-year-old students at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Florida, have raised thousands of dollars for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“All of us have a parent who has been affected by cancer, so we are very touched by the work being done at Sylvester,” said Jackson, whose father has been battling kidney cancer since 2009.
In eighth grade, they joined forces for their school’s community service project and raised $5,276 by organizing a 3v3 basketball tournament.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they redoubled their efforts and set up a crowdfunding campaign through UCARE, a University of Miami Health System fundraising platform. With hard work and dedication, they raised a total of $10,006. The boys were moved by the generosity of their community.
“It felt nice that everyone wanted to help our cause,” said Elijah, whose mother lost her battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in August. “Not just Boca, but Palm Beach, Parkland, even New York. Basically, all of our network came together to support us.”
The boys say the experience has bonded them for life and inspires them to forge ahead in their philanthropic efforts in memory of both Elijah’s mother, and Ben’s mother, who passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. The total funds raised will be split toward kidney, pancreatic and brain cancer research in honor of their parents.
To help, visit miami.edu/Teens4SylvesterResearch