HIGHLAND PARK – Henry Eisenberg, an eighth grader at Edgewood Middle School, is the oldest of 11 grandchildren, and like his siblings, cousins and friends on the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation Junior Board, he never had the opportunity to meet Grandpa Hal, who passed away in 1999 from liver cancer.
“I’ve heard that he was really caring and loving and that he was a great father,” said Henry Eisenberg. “I was named after my grandfather and I would’ve loved to have met him.”
The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation’s Junior Board will host the Curenival on Sunday, April 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Recreation Center of Highland Park to raise money for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer research. The event will feature basketball, games, hot dogs, cotton candy and more in a carnival setting.
Henry Eisenberg’s mom, Amy Eisenberg, and aunt, Lesley Kiferbaum, (Hal’s daughter) couldn’t be more proud of Henry and the rest of the Junior Board that was created two years ago and is the third generation of philanthropic leaders. The board comprises about 50 young people ages eight to 18.
“Henry is an amazing representative of who the Junior Board is made up of,” said Lesley Kiferbaum. “He is an incredible role model and speaks so well about not only his grandfather, but of the organization. There were people who really didn’t know my dad, but they’ve taken on this cause, learned about GI cancer, philanthropy and giving back.”
She is thrilled that the kids work so well together on the Junior Board.
“I would’ve never imagined that it would be so rewarding for my four kids to grow up and be on a Junior Board with their cousins doing philanthropy in honor of my dad, their grandfather, and the respect that they have for each other,” said Lesley Kiferbaum. “It’s also incredible for me to be working so closely with my nieces and nephews.”
She established a leadership team for the high school students where the high schoolers are mentoring the middle school children and the middle school children are helping the elementary school children.
Henry Eisenberg said the Junior Board last year raised about $10,000 in sponsorships at the Shoot for the Cure event, and this year the board has already raised more than $25,000 from sponsorships and donations for GI cancer research at Northwestern University.
“Last year the event was based on basketball and I play basketball, so it was fun to work on the event,” said Henry Eisenberg. Kids will also have the opportunity to shoot hoops at the Curenival.
Lesley Kiferbaum said her dad was a real estate developer who did a lot of work in Highland Park, and her family has lived here since she can remember. Her two brothers, Peter (Henry’s dad and Amy’s husband) and Scott Eisenberg, as well as her mom, Sheila Eisenberg, founded the organization and continue to be very active.
“Though there is an executive board, an associate board and a junior board, it all feels like one big family,” she said.
Amy Eisenberg explained how proactive the kids have been: “The children on the Junior Board are spreading awareness, talking to their principals, and doing side events like selling cookies and lemonade on their own time throughout the summer and winter months to raise money to donate to the foundation,” she said. “It’s exciting to see such passionate kids who are spreading the word about GI cancer.”
Mari Young, a junior at Stevenson High School, is president of the Junior Board. “Mari has given children a voice in every aspect of this event,” said Amy Eisenberg. “She would put on a slide show at every meeting and the kids would vote on their cell phones.”
The two Highland Park moms helped the kids create an acronym for the organs affected by GI cancer. PESCLIZ stands for Pancreas, Esophagus, Stomach, Colon, Liver, Intestines and Gallbladder. At every meeting the kids shout out PESCLIZ and recite what each letter stands for.
In addition to Lesley Kiferbaun and Amy Eisenberg, the other adult leaders are Stephanie Fick and Agi Semrad. They decided to take the children on a tour of Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University to learn more about GI cancer. The tour was led by Dr. Ronen Sumagin, PhD, a Professor of Pathology with Northwestern Medicine.
Dr. Sumagin is involved in depth research initiatives in the field of GI cancer, many funded by the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation. He will have an “Ask The Doctor” table at the Curenival, enabling kids to interact with him and learn more about GI cancer.
“After seeing Dr. Sumagin it has made me want to eat healthier and do more physical activities,” said Henry Eisenberg.
He explained that there are two courts at the Rec Center and the Curenival will be set up with basketball on one side, and carnival games and events on the other.
“We have a lot of committees that work on different things and we all collaborated on making different events. Everybody chipped in on helping out with creative ideas,” said Henry Eisenberg.
High school kids will do henna and face painting, and all of the kids on the Junior Board will be volunteering at the Curenival.
“It’s wildly impressive to see when you give young people an opportunity what they can accomplish,” said Amy Eisenberg. “Lesley and I couldn’t be prouder of the kids and we find this so rewarding.”
The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation’s Junior Board will hoste the Curenival on Sunday, April 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Recreation Center of Highland Park, 1207 Park Avenue West, Highland Park. Proceeds will benefit the Foundation and their work in GI cancer research and education in partnership with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. For more information visit eisenbergfoundation.org.