Mitzvot from the heart: Cooper Walkoff and Tyler Lang

For their mitzvah projects, Tyler Lang (left) and Cooper Walkoff (right), who have been longtime friends, hosted a dodge ball tournament to benefit a child with a rare congenital heart defect.

Cooper Walkoff | United Hebrew Congregation

and Tyler Lang | Central Reform Congregation

Cooper, son of Julie and Neil Walkoff of Town and Country and Tyler, son of Marni and Tony Lang of Chesterfield, met when they were 8-years-old on the baseball field and became teammates. They have been great friends since and share many common interests. It only seemed natural that the two of them would do a sports activity together for their mitzvah project.

The boys hosted a dodge ball tournament in honor of a little girl, Jade Nesselhauf, daughter of a co-worker of Tyler’s mother. Jade was born with a rare congenital heart defect. While in surgery to repair her heart, there was a problem that left her oxygen deprived for 45 minutes and she suffered a severe hypoxic brain injury. 

“Cooper and I met with Jade’s mom to hear more about Jade’s story,” Tyler explained. “After hearing everything their family went through as well as Jade being just a baby and having spent her short life in hospital we knew this was a special little girl we wanted to help.”


News of the tournament spread via flyers, friends, social media and their school, Parkway West Middle School. There were 22 teams, each with eight players.Gametime Sports in Chesterfield kindly donated their facility so 100 percent of the proceeds could be given to Jade’s family.

Over $5,000 was raised from the sale of Baby Jade T-shirts, green rubber bracelets embossed with Jade’s name and the tournament; all going towards Jade’s medical bills.

“The opportunity to help someone was the most important thing for me to have a meaningful mitzvah project,” said Cooper. “Jade’s story was one that I felt we could share with all our friends so they could see how lucky they are to be healthy and active. It was fun to have all our family and friends come together for such a great cause.” 

Added Tyler, “Jade’s situation reminds me of the need to appreciate life and to help others whose needs are greater than my own. We had such a good time planning our project and seeing everyone help us for this important cause. The best part about this was combining my favorites — sports and friends — to create a mitzvah.”

Today, Jade is two years old and her updates continue to be positive and promising. She will continue with health struggles and needs throughout her life but is so fortunate to have a very loving family to support her.