In memory of mom, Montgomery Co. boy forgoes birthday gifts in order to ‘destroy cancer’

Faced with unimaginable loss at a very young age, an 8-year-old Potomac, Maryland, boy wanted something other than presents for his birthday — a donation to a good cause.

Joey Goldberg turned his grief into determination to fight the very disease that claimed the life of his mother: cancer. In 2017, Goldberg’s mother, Lauri, died of breast cancer.

For his birthday, Goldberg wanted to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, an organization trying to bring an end to breast cancer. “Me and my dad decided that we want to start a fundraiser and just, and just like, destroy cancer,” Goldberg said.

According to Goldberg’s father, Aaron, the family thought that Goldberg’s mom had beaten cancer after surgery. However, more than a year after the surgery, the cancer returned and spread throughout her body.

Coping with the loss of his mother has been difficult for the young boy, his father said. In April, Aaron Goldberg helped his son set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook in which he asked people to donate $8, with the goal of raising $188. But that total was quickly surpassed.

“Some people donated a lot more than $8,” Joey Goldberg said.

Joey Goldberg, 8, raises money for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Joey Goldberg, 8, raises money for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg) (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
From left, Aaron Goldberg, son Joey, and Michael Jessup of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, gather at Beverly Farms Elementary to surprise Joey who raised $1,300 for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
From left, Aaron Goldberg, son Joey, and Michael Jessup of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, gather at Beverly Farms Elementary to surprise Joey, who raised $1,300 for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg) (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Joey Goldberg raised money to help fight cancer,  the disease that killed his mother, Lauri. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Joey Goldberg raised money to help fight cancer, the disease that killed his mother, Lauri. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg) (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen's Michael Jessup surprises Joey Goldberg with a check he could sign and give back to the foundation. Goldberg raised $1,300 to fight cancer. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen’s Michael Jessup surprises Joey Goldberg with a check he could sign and give back to the foundation. Goldberg raised $1,300 to fight cancer. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg) (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen's Michael Jessup surprises 8-year-old Joey Goldberg at his school. Goldberg raised $1,300 for the organization in honor of his mother.  (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen’s Michael Jessup surprises 8-year-old Joey Goldberg at his school. Goldberg raised $1,300 for the organization in honor of his mother. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg) (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
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Joey Goldberg, 8, raises money for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
From left, Aaron Goldberg, son Joey, and Michael Jessup of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, gather at Beverly Farms Elementary to surprise Joey who raised $1,300 for cancer research. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Joey Goldberg raised money to help fight cancer,  the disease that killed his mother, Lauri. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen's Michael Jessup surprises Joey Goldberg with a check he could sign and give back to the foundation. Goldberg raised $1,300 to fight cancer. (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)
Susan G. Komen's Michael Jessup surprises 8-year-old Joey Goldberg at his school. Goldberg raised $1,300 for the organization in honor of his mother.  (Courtesy Aaron Goldberg)

Aaron Goldberg said the outpouring of support for his son’s fundraiser was amazing. Two weeks of fundraising raised $1,300.

“It’s really a testament to Joey, and his strength, and his ability to work through some of his emotions about his mom,” Aaron Goldberg said.

Seeing this fundraiser’s success, the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Maryland decided to have a big check printed out and then showed up at Joey Goldberg’s school, Beverly Farms Elementary, so that the second grader could sign and present the check to them.

“I’ve never had a child at the age of 8 raise money. It’s just never happened before,” said Susan G. Komen Executive Director Michael Jessup during a presentation in front of Joey Goldberg’s classmates and teachers.

“It felt really good but a little bit embarrassing, because they did it in the middle of music class,” Joey Goldberg said.

His father said the fundraiser has also helped the family heal after the loss, as they all have come together to rally behind the boy’s efforts.

Joey Goldberg is also talking about making this a yearly birthday tradition to honor his mother. But for now, he hopes the money he raised this year will go to help scientists develop new ways to fight cancer.

“What do we want to do to cancer?” Aaron Goldberg asked his son.

Joey Goldberg quickly answered, “Kick their butt and send it to H-E-L-L.”

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