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MTM Athlete of the Year, 2014 – Michael Goldfine, Long Grove, IL 

More Than Me will be highlighting athletes who truly display the “More Than Me” commitment in their community. Our first MTM athlete has inspired our organization beyond what words can express.

“One never really knows about the quality and content of an individual’s character until something of a very serious nature happens to that person or to a close loved one”

In June of 2010, Michael Goldfine had just completed his freshman year at Stevenson High School and was looking forward to his sophomore year which included playing for the SHS hockey and baseball teams.  However, in late June, he started feeling ill and was admitted to Children’s Memorial Hospital the day after completing his final in summer school.

                                                   

 On July 7, 2010 he was diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a blood cancer that prevents white blood cells from maturing into healthy cells. The chemo treatments left Michael very weak and he lost most of his hair, but that did not stop him from still going to school on the days he was not at CMH clinic getting treatments or from going to hockey practice. 

During his sophomore year he missed 42 days of school, but still managed make the Honor Roll.  On days when his platelet count was too low to participate in hockey practice he would still suit up and skate during warm-ups.  Mike also made the sophomore baseball team in the spring of 2011 and continued to play on the SHS hockey team during his junior and senior years.

                                                                     

“Over 15 years of teaching, I have had very few students who have faced adversity with the strength and determination of Michael. One of the great lessons of sports is to teach people how to appropriately react to setbacks in life. Mike found himself in a situation where a setback in life helped to teach him how to appropriately react to setbacks in any arena” - Mr. Carlson, SHS 

Michael views his situation in a light that few his age would, “My disease made me realize that life can be taken away at any moment, so make the best of everything and do things to help people and the surrounding community”.  Michael sees each day as an opportunity to help others. He has gone above and beyond by serving as a student ambassador of the Christopher Steele Foundation, an organization that raises money for cancer research and provides two scholarship funds annually. Michael was also elected to the CSF Board of Directors for all the great work he has done.

                            

It is hard to imagine Michael could do anymore throughout this time. But Michael saw a need for a place for young teens to congregate while at Lurie Children’s Hospital and pitched the idea for a Teen Lounge. Michael was able to organize a fundraiser through SHS Hockey and Cheerleading that raised around $19,000. Michael states, “Now when I go back to the hospital, I see teenagers in the lounge watching movies, working on homework, or playing games on the computer; which really makes me feel good about what I had helped to achieve.”

Michael’s courage, drive, determination and positive attitude has been truly an inspiration to all his teammates, friends, teachers, coaches and fellow students.  He hopes his story will help encourage other children and teenagers with leukemia and other cancers to keep up their fight to beat the disease.

                                            

On September 9, 2013 Michael took his last chemotherapy pills and won his 3+ year battle with Leukemia. Michael is true inspiration to anyone facing adversity. His empathy towards others exemplifies the “More Than Me” philosophy. We are proud to welcome Michael into the “More Than Me Family.

 

 

MTM would like to thank Larry & Lisa Goldfine and Jason Carlson for their contributions to this piece.

Written by Brad Schnitzer — November 21, 2013

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