Detroit based Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, or “Rabbi G,” is a black belt on a mission. His program is helping thousands of children around the world fight cancer, one kick at a time.
For Kids Kicking Cancer founder, Rabbi G, the mission is personal.
“My daughter, Sara, was diagnosed with leukemia a week before her first birthday,” explains Rabbi G. “She had such a positive spirit. Even after very painful treatments, she would give the doctors a kiss and thank them.”
Sara put up a brave fight but lost her battle at the age of two and for Rabbi G became the inspiration behind Kids Kicking Cancer.
For years, Rabbi G trained in choi kwang do under Grandmaster Choi. In his 13-year journey in martial arts he also studied penchak silat.
“Martial arts gives an individual the opportunity to reach one’s inner sense of purpose,” he says. “It became apparent to me that the martial arts can become a spiritual and powerful life source.”
Using those lessons, the black belt rabbi created an unorthodox form of mental medicine to help ease the pain of suffering children. He blended tai-chi breathing techniques with yoga mediation and incorporated them into an innovative karate program.
Rabbi G uses that force to empower sick children. Through these techniques, he gives hope to children who had lost all hope. This was never more evident than when Rabbi G came across a child suffering with uncontrollable pain.
“The nurses tried to distract him but nothing worked,” Rabbi G recalls. So he stepped in telling the child he was a black belt and convincing the boy he could control his pain with a tai-chi technique.
“Five minutes later, we were doing a tai-chi breathing exercise. And 20 minutes later, they took the needle out. He looked up at the nurse and asked ‘Did you do it yet?’ And that’s when Kids Kicking Cancer was born.”
Kids Kicking Cancer started in 1999 with 10 children at the Children’s Hospital in Michigan. The program quickly spread and is now in 45 hospitals reaching more than 3,000 children.
Rabbi G teamed up with martial arts master, Richard Plowden, who helps build the curriculum and teach the martial arts classes to children with a variety of diseases.
“It started off focusing on cancer, then morphed into sickle cell,” says Plowden. “Now we have what we call the Heroes Circle, which is kids being referred to us from hospitals with a variety of different diagnoses.”
The mantra for the students in the program is “power, peace and purpose.” All of the students are in the fight for their lives. Those three words have been a verbal lifeline connecting the students to a sense of hope that their disease had taken from them.
Rabbi G is actively looking for the right partners to bring Kids Kicking Cancer to children worldwide.
“Kids Kicking Cancer gives our children the tools to find the light that is already there,” he explains. “And once they find that light, it changes everything.”
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