Mitzvot from the Heart: Michael Wasserman

Michael Wasserman

Michael Wasserman

Congregation United Hebrew

When Michael was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he knew he had to raise awareness and money to find a cure for this disease. He came home from school one day and asked his parents, Karen and Andy Wasserman of Chesterfield, if they would help him organize a juvenile diabetes walk at Parkway Central Middle School.

Karen was more than happy to get the ball rolling. She contacted the school nurse, the school principal, the physical education chair, and a representative from JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Founation) to discuss the idea. Everyone loved it and a date was set.


Because Michael’s school thought it was more important for the kids to be educated rather than raise funds, the JDRF representative visited with the students the week prior to the walk and talked about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and healthy life choices, including food and exercise. One thing the kids learned is that type 1 diabetics do not contract the disease by eating too much sugar.

Race day became “hat day” since the students and faculty were allowed to wear hats as long as they made a small donation to support JDRF. The JDRF paper shoes were also sold. Michael kept track of how many laps around the track each grade walked and in total, they walked 3,589 laps or 896.5 miles. The school raised $274.24 for JDRF and had a great time.

To get the word out to family and friends, the Wassermans posted a link about the walk on their Facebook pages (through JDRF) and sent out e-mails asking for their support. “Everyone was exceptionally generous and supportive,” said Karen. After raising another $1,1134 for JDRF, Michael said, “I hope that this walk raised awareness of this disease and that by raising money for this charity, one day in the near future, a cure will be found.”

Baseball is Michael’s passion and as a way to give back to the community for all its support, he volunteered with Challenger Baseball by becoming a “buddy.” Challenger Baseball is a baseball league for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

“I think it is very important to assist people with developmental disabilities to experience the game of baseball and the camaraderie of being on a team,” said Michael. “In this league everyone bats, even those people in a wheelchair and everyone is cheered both offensively and defensively!” Michael also enjoyed making new friends with these kids. “It made me feel good to help others in this small way,” he added.

Michael hopes that the walk will be an annual event at Parkway Central Middle School.  He plans on continuing to volunteer as a buddy with Challenger Baseball this coming season.