An Elkins Park teen forms a team to battle ALS and exceeds her goal at a benefit walk.
Mitzvah Hero: Jessica Schenk, 13, daughter of Brenda Edelman and Bruce Schenk of Elkins Park, took a walk on a winning side by forming a team for the ALS Walk to D’Feat, held recently at Citizens Bank Park.
What It’s All About: In some ways, it was a familiar effort for this teen member of Beth Sholom Congregation: Her mother is director of patient services for the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association, and her sisters, Monica, 21, and Nina, 16, also did ALS walks for their Bat Mitzvot.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurological condition that saps victims of strength and body control.
To battle the disease, Jessica did well at doing good. The seventh-grader at Cedarbrook Middle School in Cheltenham shepherded her J-Walkers to top position: The team “raised the most money for a school-based team, and I was awarded a plaque.”
And the ALS group was rewarded with the $2,507 Jessica’s team brought in, exceeding the J-Walkers’ goal by some 25 percent.
Not a One-Time Thing: “I have also volunteered through my synagogue at the Jewish Relief Agency and the Beth Sholom Mitzvah Pantry,” says Jessica of other ongoing mitzvot. And her role at ALS goes beyond walking — she has been volunteering at the local chapter since she was 10.
“I have helped out at patient/family events such as the holiday party, ALS Express Bike Ride and at many Walk events," Jessica says.
Good for Her: “I have learned to have empathy toward the individuals that are diagnosed with ALS and other disabilities,” she says of lessons learned. “I have become more aware of the struggle of people that have this devastating diagnosis and how it effects their families.”