Justin’s Quest searches for a cure for brain tumors

Break dancing with the DJ at his Bar Mitzvah on Jan. 29, Justin Friedlander was having the time of his life. Celebrating alongside his closest friends and family, the 13-year-old was on cloud nine, almost as if things were back to normal.

In March 2009, Justin was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in his optic nerve. However, instead of wallowing in his own misfortune, Justin was determined to face this obstacle head on by starting Justin’s Quest, a mission to raise money towards a cure for brain tumors.

“People realize we [were] just like any other family until March of 2009,” Justin’s father Jon Friedlander said. “We were just a regular family, and next thing we know, we have a child diagnosed with a brain tumor and our lives have been changed forever, it was upside down in a lot of ways and it can happen to anybody.”

The Friedlander’s Quest launched in December 2009 with the goal of raising over $250,000 and shooting 40,000 baskets to signify the number of people diagnosed with a primary brain tumor every year in the United States.

“The goal is not just raising money, but raising awareness to people,” Jon said. “The reason why we picked the baskets is because baskets just seemed to be something that is natural. Also Justin loves basketball.”

As Justin’s Quest continues to gain publicity for this disease, the quest has caught the attention of household names like Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player LeBron James and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps.

Justin was able to personally meet James, and to watch Phelps practice and shoot baskets with him.

“I couldn’t believe [that I was going to shoot with Phelps],” Justin said. “I was shocked, but then I realized I was making a difference and helping other people. If I can get Phelps to shoot with me and possibly put it up on the website, people will be like ‘Wow, he is doing a lot’ and maybe they will donate and tell other people and they may donate.”

Many other local celebrities have taken interest in the Quest, but the family believes that the community has just as much of an impact as celebrities.

“We want to shoot with everybody because it is the grass root people that are just as important,” Jon said.

Locals including world-class sprinter Renaldo Nehemiah and the people of Glyde Productions have donated their time and effort to help spread awareness through the community.

Justin’s Quest has currently raised over $21,000 and shot almost 6,000 baskets.

All the money raised by Justin’s Quest will be donated to the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) to help find a cure not only for Justin, but also every person affected by brain tumors.

“Today there are over 600,000 people in the US living with the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor,” said N. Paul TonThat, Executive Director of the NBTS. “Justin’s Quest will bring awareness to this under-served disease. We are very proud to be a part of his energy and success in this endeavor.”

To shoot hoops with Justin or donate money to Justin’s Quest, visit www.justinsquest.com for details. More ways to help fight the battle against brain tumors include participating in the Race for Hope on May 2 in Washington DC or Golf for Hope, founded by CHS parent Chris Peabody on April 30. Visit the National Brain Tumor Society website at www.braintumor.org for more information.