Nephew's illness inspires fundraiser

By Jessica Elgot, September 17, 2010
Family valued: Darren Cohen with his nephew Joey Levene

Family valued: Darren Cohen with his nephew Joey Levene

Motivated by a five-year-old nephew with a terminal muscle-wasting disease, a Manchester Habonim Dror member is raising money through the movement for research into a potential cure.

Darren Cohen, 20, from Whitefield championed the cause of Action Duchenne, researching a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, at Habonim's annual meeting.

Joey Levene from Prestwich - the son of Mr Cohen's sister Tracy and her husband Tony - was born with the disorder, which affects only boys. Sufferers may not live beyond their late teens.

Mr Cohen says Joey, who has just started at King David Primary, is "a really lovely, bubbly character, but I think he does know there is something different about him. He struggles a bit with his movement and eventually he will be in a wheelchair.

"It has affected my whole family a lot and we are always doing everything we can to raise money for the charity to help him and thousands of other boys like him."

At the Habonim veida (AGM), members voted on which of five charities would receive the £1 donated by every Habonim summer camp participant. Action Duchenne was one of two charities chosen and will benefit by almost £440.

"I had to describe the charity and why I want to support it in front of all the movement's madrichim," Mr Cohen said. "I broke down while trying to explain - my best friend had to do it for me. I felt a great sense of support when they chose the charity, it was really touching. Habonim don't have much money and it's amazing they can help fund research which could save lives."

An appeal to Manchester United chief executive David Gill brought a signed Wayne Rooney shirt for auction and having completed the Habonim year scheme in Israel, Mr Cohen intends to continue fundraising efforts for Action Duchenne during his studies at Kings College London.

Last updated: 11:38am, September 17 2010