Gilbert Spencer is doing his part to help fight the disease that affected his family.
The seventh-grader at Candlewood Middle School in Dix Hills recently raised nearly $3,200 through his participation in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, an annual 5-mile fundraising walk held at Jones Beach in October.
Spencer said he was inspired to participate in the popular walk because of his mother Denise, who was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. She is now cancer-free, he said.
"We never thought this could happen to anyone we know," said Spencer, 13, who said the fundraising effort was part of the community service component of his bar mitzvah. Of the amount raised, he said: "I was pretty surprised by it. We aimed for $2,000 at first, and then went down to $1,500."
To spread the word, Spencer said he set up a fundraising website with the help of his sister, Nicole, and then emailed friends and family encouraging them to donate to the cause.
Spencer is a member of his school's basketball and cross-country teams. He also volunteers at Temple Beth El of Huntington and with Project HOPE, a local community ministry initiative that aids the hungry.