Michael Bendok (13, Phoenix, Arizona) is an activist for health and a fighter against rare diseases. He put his passion into action and started a fundraiser called Kids 4 Causes along with three of his friends. To support his cause, Michael organized several fundraisers that included a coin drive and a charity run. In the first three months of 2016, they raised over $17,000 towards a calendar year goal of $20,000 to support rare disease research.  Longer term, the boys plan to continue their efforts through middle school and even high school to raise money and awareness for worthy causes.

Kids 4 Cause has its own story. It was inspired by Michael’s friend Samuel’s younger brother who had a rare disease and needed to carry an oxygen tank everywhere he went because he only possessed a 30% lung capacity. He started as a fundraiser for TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, and continued his activities throughout middle school where he took part in many school activities, parties, drives, and volunteer projects as the president of his student council and Senior Patrol leader in his Boy Scout Troop.

In the United States, around 30 million people live with rare diseases, which is equal to 10 percent of the entire population. Currently, there is not enough research and funding to fight those diseases. Through Michael’s hard work and commitment to supporting those with rare diseases, he was able to raise $1300 at a coin drive and over $16,000 at a run, and became even more motivated to help find the cure for rare diseases. Not only he is determined to help raise funds for a great cause, but he also is building a strong community to support those battling these diseases.