When Weston High School senior Jordan Berger was 12, he learned that his beloved grandmother, Brenda Siegal, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. He didn’t know what to do to help her, but knew he had to do something.
So Jordan formed a team he called “Brenda’s Valor” to participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, which raises money for breast cancer research for the American Cancer Society. There are more than 270 Making Strides walks held each year throughout the country.
Brenda’s Valor will again take part in Making Strides this Sunday, Oct. 21, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Participants will walk a 5K (3.1-mile) course and enjoy exercise, inspiration and entertainment while contributing to cancer research.
Every year, Jordan said, he looks forward to Making Strides because his grandmother comes up from her home on Long Island to walk with the team. The team was named in honor of her valiant fight against cancer.
“My grandmother is so proud to be part of this event. It means a lot to her as a cancer survivor,” he said.
Jordan hopes his classmates at Weston High School will join the team. “I think my grandmother is thrilled to have a team named after her. We started with about 30 or 40 people, mostly friends and family.” At last count, about 70 people had signed up to walk with the team on Sunday.
“It’s really a very special event. We have some terrific T-shirts specially made for the team, and we have a great time,” he said.
The son of businessman Bruce Berger and psychologist Hilary Berger, Jordan is interested in studying both finance and psychology in college after he graduates from high school. He is president of the senior class at Weston High School and also president of the National Honor Society.
A competitive swimmer, Jordan participates in meets throughout the country. “My grandmother is my No. 1 cheerleader. She has even traveled to Georgia to root for me at a swim competition,” he said.
His grandmother has made such a positive impact on his life that Jordan wrote about her in his college essay. “She’s the most wonderful person I know,” he said.
Making Strides is a family event for the Bergers, and Jordan’s parents and siblings will be walking. His sister Charlotte, a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, is coming down. Sister Ilana, a 10th grade student at Weston High School, and brother Brandon, a sixth grade student at Weston Middle School, are also part of Brenda’s Valor.
“I think this walk has made a big difference to my grandmother. She loves it,” Jordan said.
When someone is struggling with a condition like breast cancer, Jordan said, it is important for family and friends not to shy away from them. “You want to embrace the person and give them your full support at all times. It really helps,” he said.
The Brenda’s Valor team will assemble around 10 a.m. on Sunday at the flagpole near the pavilion at Sherwood Island. The walk starts at 11. There will be bagels and refreshments available before the start of the walk. Persons of all ages are welcome to participate and may even bring their dogs to walk with them.
Advance registration is required, and anyone interested in walking with the team or contributing as a sponsor may contact Jordan Berger by email at [email protected]