BY MICHAEL LLERENA
Over the last two months, Cooper City High School students and faculty have been involved in raising funds for the aid of sophomore Kimberly Berkowitz, who has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma disease.
Berkowitz discovered the illness when her boyfriend, junior Justin Orellana, noticed a lump on her throat. Orellana repeatedly told her to seek medical consultation. Although initially resistant, Berkowitz went to the doctor’s office. It was then that she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a curable form of white blood cell cancer.
“After I was diagnosed, I went to school the next day,” Berkowitz said. “In each of my classes, I addressed the room, taking the time to tell the class the entire story so people heard it straight from me, rather than some rumor. I wanted to take control of the situation; not let it take control of me.”
It was in Spanish teacher Gloria Perez’s class that the “Karing 4 Kim” campaign was launched.
“We were all moved by Kim’s story,” Perez said. “There was a feeling of concern for her family’s financial situation, as there were numerous medical bills to pay. As both a mother and grandmother, this moved me. As a result, the class and I decided to alleviate some of Kim’s pain by doing fundraisers.”
Perez’s efforts have been both numerous and effective. In donations alone, the group raised $165. Senior Josh Greenberger and sophomore Shayna Greenberger were also instrumental in fundraising, as they and their parents managed to raise nearly $1,600. A portion of these profits came from a catalog sale during the week of April 15th. Items sold included specially made desk sets and sport mugs. Other funds came from “Karing 4 Kim” buttons made by the Greenbergers. The group raised $200 from this effort alone.
“We have a high insurance deductible which is why all of this fundraising is so amazing,” mother Sherry Berkowitz said. “All of the money that’s raised goes directly towards Kim’s medical bills. If it weren’t for everyone’s efforts, we’d be paying for years and years.”
On April 20th, Cold Stone Creamery hosted a fundraiser in which 25% of all proceeds went to Karing 4 Kim. At the end of the night, the group had raised $124. In the same month, Karing 4 Kim was brought to plaza neighbor Beef O’ Brady’s.
“It’s always easy to partner for a good cause,” owner Brent Ginsburg said. “We’re always excited to do our part in helping out the community. Every little bit counts.”
Because of the widespread community attention that this cause has attained, the students of CCHS have become more aware of all that is being done to help Berkowitz.
“I feel that this cause is not only a good one, but an imperative one,” junior Chris Schultze said. “Helping each other out is Cooper City’s biggest strength. When it comes down to it, some people have it worse than others. This cause is about helping those people.”
Berkowitz is still in the chemotherapy stage. In three-week cycles, she is brought to the hospital for treatment, released to her house, and then brought back as an outpatient for another round of chemotherapy. Berkowitz is currently in the third of her four chemotherapy rounds and has been responding very favorably to treatment. After this process, Kim will start radiation sessions and be closer to becoming cancer-free.
In spite of Berkowitz’s hardship, the efforts of those around her have helped to maintain her optimism.
“I feel like a role model now,” Berkowitz said. “I know I have to be stronger and I know that I can be.”