What does it take to raise $100,000 for type 1 diabetes research—when you are just 13 years old? It takes a stellar idea and a stellar young man. Please meet Matthew Sherr.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) seven years ago at age six, Matthew lives in Westchester County, NY, with his parents and three younger siblings. As part of his heritage and upbringing as a Jewish male, Matthew prepared for his bar mitzvah last fall, shortly before his 13th birthday. This is the age at which a boy or girl becomes an adult, according to Jewish faith. A bar mitzvah includes reading from the Torah (the Old Testament), leading some or all of a religious service, and creating and delivering a personal statement or reflection. It is always a joyous celebration for family and friends.
Matthew decided to share his celebration with JDRF. According to his mother, Holly, “We had always discussed donating money that Matthew received as bar mitzvah gifts to charity. It was Matthew’s decision to donate it all to JDRF.” Holly had just joined the JDRF New York City Chapter board of directors, and she feels that her son was encouraged by her own excitement about her involvement with the organization.
The Sherr family kept fundraising simple. They enclosed a card, written by Matthew, in his bar mitzvah invitation. Guests were asked to donate to JDRF in Matthew’s honor in lieu of gifts. With the help of the NYC Chapter, the family created a website to make it easier for people to donate. This simple request raised more money than anyone had expected. All in all, Matthew raised more than $100,000 for JDRF.
During his bar mitzvah service on December 8, 2012, Matthew spoke about living with T1D and the importance of supporting research for the disease by donating to JDRF. As the leading global organization focused on T1D, JDRF has provided more than $1.7 billion for research for better treatments and ultimately a cure for the disease. Matthew shared his family’s deep regard for JDRF. His mother feels that the organization’s work is helping to improve her son’s life. “We all think JDRF is doing so much for people with T1D—not only working toward a cure, but making Matthew’s life healthier every day,” says Holly.
Since his diagnosis, Matthew’s family has made it a personal mission to support him in his desire to do what other kids his age are doing—whether it’s sports or sleepovers. His mother reports that he is very independent and responsible about his health. “Nothing stands in his way,” according to Holly.
Clearly, nothing stood in Matthew’s way when he decided to include personal fundraising in his bar mitzvah. So what does it take to succeed in such an effort? It takes a star, like Matthew, and his loving family and friends. We are proud that the Sherr family is part of our JDRF family.
Thank you, Matthew!