Brad Rosen is using his own big heart to save children’s hearts in third-world countries.
After visiting Israel two years ago, the father of two decided he wanted to give back to the Jewish state and Jewish community. So, he started the Georgia chapter of an international nonprofit that provides life-saving cardiac care to children in developing countries, and raised money through adult and children’s events.
Those include an annual basketball game organized by area Jewish students, including his sons.
“I didn’t want to lose the feeling,” he said of the Zionism he gained from his Israeli trip with the Frank Family Foundation in Atlanta.
The annual Israel “Frank Mission” is geared toward Atlantans with a “Jewish heart” and leadership ability. A requirement of the trip is for participants to become involved in Jewish life upon their return.
Rosen consulted with his rabbi, Spike Anderson of Temple Emanu-El, who started a chapter in Los Angeles of the Save A Child’s Heart with his wife, Marita, and has been a continual supporter.
Based in Israel, one of the country’s largest humanitarian organizations tries to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in poorer countries – half of the patients are from Arab lands – who suffer from heart defects.
Inspired by Rabbi Anderson, Rosen started a Georgia chapter of SACH and enlisted friends, those who had visited SACH in Israel, his own sons and their peers.
In August, the boys raised $22,000 at a 3×3 basketball event, after having raised about the same amount the year before. The “Play Your Heart Out” tournament at All Saints Church met the group’s goal, Rosen said.
A SACH dinner last year at Spring Hall event center attracted 200 adults and raised $35,000. Every $15,000 raised saves a child’s heart, he said. The majority of the adult planning committee members are also Jewish and include a few pediatric cardiologists.
Of the 14 to 15 boys on the basketball tournament organizing committee, the majority are Jewish. Most of them know each other through sports at the Marcus JCC, other teams, Jewish youth groups, camps, and Creating Connected Communities volunteer programs.
Rosen said his goal for involving children in the fundraising is not only to help them give back, but to teach them life skills such as cold calling, soliciting donations, making presentations, advertising, and public speaking.
This year the boys also had to raise money just to play in the tournament instead of paying a flat $30 fee. The minimum was $50 for every participant. About 90 children participated each year with about double that many spectators, Rosen said. A few of the boys raised almost $1,000 and one raised more than that. “This is not just Mom and Dad” telling them to participate, Rosen said. “It’s not just showing up, raising money and leaving. They work hard.”
Andrew Altmann, a sophomore at The Weber School, said his cousin had heart problems when she was born. So, fundraising for SACH allows him to help others like her. “I love helping kids from third-world countries,” he said. “I hope to get more kids to volunteer with us.”
He said it was a challenge cold-calling for raffle prizes. “I learned to talk to people. I was probably shy before and now I can have a conversation” with business people.
Rosen’s son, Cooper, an eighth-grader at Saint Francis School, said he likes helping save the lives of children who need heart surgery. “We are helping other children succeed and make them feel better and always be happy.”
His older brother, Reese, a sophomore at Dunwoody High School, said his grandfather had heart surgery when he was in his 50s. Reese recalled asking a manager to make a donation and bystanders who heard his pitch gave him $20. He believes starting a basketball tournament, advertising on social media and knowing how to raise money is more impressive than other involvements he might include on a resume.
For more about the Georgia chapter of SACH, visit www.facebook.com/sachgeorgia.