Cold Spring Harbor High School kicker Eli Gordon spent his time on the sideline this fall silently calculating numbers in his head. This was a different kind of season for Gordon. He wasn’t kicking for points on the scoreboard. He was kicking for the countless amounts of people affected by cancer.
Gordon, a junior, donated $1,000 in support of breast cancer research to Dr. David Spector, Director of Research and Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Labs as part of Gordon’s “Kick Cancer” fundraising initiative earlier this month. For every extra point Gordon made (19 of 22, including playoffs), Gordon would add $25 to the fund, comprised primarily of his own savings. The funds were then matched by a small circle of donors, both family and friends, to reach the final sum.
The money was donated in memory of former Cold Spring Harbor High School teacher Victoria Terenzi, who passed away from breast cancer earlier this year, a news release said.
Spector is working to produce a ‘novel’ breast cancer drug, according to Cold Spring Harbor Lab’s website.
The idea began to formulate after Gordon participated in the Carolina Panthers “Keep Pounding” 5k this spring. The run, inspired by former NFL All-Pro linebacker and Panthers coach Sam Mills Jr. who died in 2005 after a two-year battle with cancer, raises money for cancer research through the Carolinas Healthcare Foundation.
When Spencer Starr, a friend and former teammate who was working under Spector at the lab, told Gordon about the research being done, he knew he had to help.
“I wanted to bring the cause that I was running for closer to home and to the labs,” Gordon said.
The fund would remain, at least in part, a secret to many around Gordon until the money was donated. No one else on the team, not a player, coach, or water boy, knew of his season-long philanthropy.
“I chose to keep it such a secret because throughout the season it’s about the team’s goals and not about mine,” Gordon said. “I didn’t want to do anything to distract from our goals of winning games or influence any of the coaches decisions, whether or not to put me in or to go for a two-point conversion. I didn’t want the coaches to feel they had to get me into the game.”
Gordon was flooded with pride when he finally presented Spector with the money that all his extra points produced.
“It made me feel like I was actually contributing to something, especially knowing what Dr. Spector is doing,” Gordon said. “ . . . If you make an extra point or a field goal in a game, you make a difference [for your team], but if you make a difference that affects so many people by raising money for a worthwhile cause like breast cancer research, that’s what its about and that’s where I get the most satisfaction.”