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The Highland Echo

Local toddler fights cancer: Benny Rudy’s Battalion

Eliana Corinne Gargiulo, Editor-in-Chief

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The West Milford community was shocked and saddened when, on July 10th of this past summer, local toddler Benny Rudy was diagnosed with lung cancer. At only two and a half years old, a 4 inch germ tumor was discovered on Benny’s right lung. Benny’s mother, Jessica Cohen, works as a 1st grade teacher at Paradise Knolls Elementary School, and his father, Greg Cohen, works as a numismatist at Legand Rare Coin Auctions. The two had their world turned upside down when Benny was diagnosed, but thankfully, our town was there to step in and help the family in their time of need.

Thus, Benny Rudy’s Battalion was formed. The name was coined by Danielle Steele, as the title of a GoFundMe dedicated to raising money for the Cohen family. Within a single day, almost ten-thousand dollars were raised. The town continued to pour its support into the Battalion by way of t-shirt and wristband sales, the proceeds of which were sent to support the Cohen family.“has always focused on the good and never dwelled on the negative even at almost 3 yrs old”. It’s thanks to this outcropping of support from our community that the Cohen’s were able to keep their spirits high and push through this trying time.

The Cohen family spent 42 days at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia(CHOP), with Benny receiving three separate rounds of chemotherapy over his stay. This process isn’t easy, even for adults, which makes Benny’s resilience through those trying months all the more inspiring. The journey leading to remission is a long and tiresome one: Lined with surgeries, illnesses, and a lot of waiting. On the Benny Rudy’s Battalion facebook page, Jessica Cohen says that Benny managed all this with constant smiles, “and has always focused on the good and never dwelled on the negative even at almost 3 yrs old”.

Support for Benny expanded even beyond the West Milford community. In late September, Benny was chosen to receive a wish by the Make A Wish Foundation. Benny asked to see Pooh and Piglet, and so, the Cohen family was given a trip to Disney World! The charity doesn’t end there: In early October, Benny got to meet two of his favorite stars, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, thanks to the kindness of the Ray family. Benny has been a fan of Guy’s show, Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, since he could watch TV, and was incredibly happy to meet Guy in person.

It was acts of kindness and compassion like this that kept Benny and his family in good spirits, and it was this kindness that helped the family get to the happy end of their struggle. Benny finally finished his last round of chemotherapy, three months from the time he was diagnosed. While Benny’s journey still isn’t over, he’s come a long way, and the end is finally in sight. With chemo behind him, Benny gets to start rebuilding to his former strength.

It is thanks to the charity and kindness of others that Benny Rudy and his family have made it this far. The power of community and kindness are expressed full force here. Benny is now on the road to recovery, and the kindness of others played a big part in the process of getting him there. Here’s hoping that the next time a family in our town faces a crisis, our community will be ready to go to bat again.

If you are interested in purchasing a wristband or t-shirt, please see Mrs. Stephanie Marquad, secretary to the principal, Mr. Bill VanDyke, or Security Guard.

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The student news site of West Milford Township High School
Local toddler fights cancer: Benny Rudy’s Battalion