Mitzvah Hero: Richboro 13-year-old Brett Rubin — “Yes, I am officially a teenager. Yay 13!” — volunteers and advocates for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an agency he credits with helping him battle Type 1 diabetes.
What It’s All About: Brett was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 3, the same year he started religious preschool at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County.
“In some ways I feel so grateful — if you’re gonna get Type 1 diabetes — that I was surrounded by God, my rabbi, and too many kind teachers to name,” praises the Richboro Middle School student.
Brett, son of Sandy and Paul Rubin, says the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is "a part of my family. I call them my life-savers because Type 1 diabetes never sleeps and I know the JDRF is working 24/7 to help find a cure."
In return, he does his part to support the agency. He served as a Pennsylvania delegate to JDRF's Children’s Congress and was named a junior ambassador of the foundation. He's received six Golden Sneaker Awards over the years for his involvement and also won JDRF’s 2012 Advocate of the Year Award. He lived up to that honor by interacting with top members of Congress in Washington, D.C., notably Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Bucks County. Fitzpatrick, who calls Brett a “little lobbyist,” even attended the teen's Bar Mitzvah and wound up with a speaking role.
Not a One-Time Thing: When it came time for Brett's Bar Mitzvah project, surprisingly he did not focus on diabetes advocacy. Instead he chose to honor his late brother, Alexander, who died before Brett was born, by helping lead his synagogue's Thursday night minyan.
Brett credits his mother, cantor Paul Frimark (coincidentally a former controller of the Jewish Exponent), Rabbi Eliott Perlstein and “minyan master” Saul Jacobs “for teaching me that it’s not about what’s comfortable, it’s about showing up when you don’t have to.” This self-described optimist says he knows “that the world is broken and needs people to help repair it.”
Good for Him: “I feel blessed that I can make a difference,” says the teen. After sharing his story with Fitzpatrick, the politician participated in a JDRF kids walk sporting a "Brett's Band" t-shirt. Brett gives the shirts to those who walk with him to raise money for the foundation. Fitzpatrick is part of a chain of change, Brett says: “He changed my life; the JDRF changed my life; Ohev changed my life.”