For 12-year-old Remi Zisselman, fighting cancer runs in the family.
Since 2004, the year before her grandfather, Isaac, died in multiple myeloma, Remi’s father Marc Zisselman of Manhasset Hills has raised more than $5 million to support research for a cure to the rare blood cancer.
And in 2014, Remi’s sister Lexi, now 15, held a soccer tournament that raised $7,500 for the cause.
Now Remi, a Herricks Middle School student, is using her love of running to plan her own fundraiser — a June 17 “Charity Dash” at Herricks High School to support the Mount Sinai Multiple Myeloma Program, run by the doctor who treated Isaac Zisselman.
“It’s tough work, and it takes a lot of time and effort to put it all together, but it’s coming together slowly,” Remi said.
The event is a service project in advance of Remi’s bat mitzvah, the Jewish ritual of womanhood, in September, Marc Zisselman said. That was also the impetus for Lexi’s fundraiser, he said.
Participants in the dash will pay $20 to run two 100-yard races, split into different age groups. The winner and runner-up in each race will each get raffle tickets drawn from separate boxes for a chance to win a door prize, while the other runners get their tickets put in a third box.
Remi has accompanied her dad on meetings with sponsors and helped with other work to support the event, including “guerrilla marketing,” Marc said.
So far they’ve gotten two corporate sponsors and commitments for donated door prizes, including an Apple iPad, a custom soccer jersey and a pizza party for 20 people.
Remi runs track for Catholic Youth Organization and USA Track & Field teams. She said she wanted to use her love of running in honor of her grandfather, who died the week she was born, after seeing her sister and father work for the cause.
“To honor that by giving back a little bit, let alone in memory of their grandfather, is pretty special,” Marc Zisselman said.
The goal is to raise awareness about multiple myeloma and to get them involved in supporting research to help fewer people die from it, Remi said.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed from malignant plasma cells that can harm the bones and kidneys and cause infections. It’s a rare disease — the chances of getting it are 1 in 143, and about 30,300 cases are expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
The Charity Dash will support the Mount Sinai Multiple Myeloma Program, a nonprofit organization run by Dr. Sundar Jagannath, an expert on the disease who treated Isaac Zisselman, Marc Zisselman said.
Mount Sinai opened a research facility in Huntington recently, supported by Zisselman’s fundraising efforts, he said.
Lexi Zisselman has helped her dad with his annual fundraising event each year, and Marc said he hopes Remi will, too. He hopes to eventually hand the annual event over to the two of them, he said.
“It’s definitely going to be more than a one-time involvement,” Marc Zisselman said.
Remi’s Charity Dash will run from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 on the Herricks High School track.
Anyone interested in participating or who has any questions should contact Marc Zisselman at [email protected].