Person of the Week: David Fajgenbaum

August 21, 2009 2:22:08 PM PDT
On a recent weekend, the football field at Ravenscroft High School was full of people exercising - not for a team or a game, but for a friend.They were there for David Fajgenbaum - a Ravenscroft grad who gets all decked out in his camouflage each year for the Boot Camp to Beat Cancer fundraiser.

It's a cause close to Fajgenbaum's heart. A brain tumor took his mother's life nearly 5 years ago when he was a sophomore at Georgetown. The boot camp is part of a promise Fajgenbaum made to his mom: to help fight cancer and help other college students cope with the death or illness of a parent.

"The norm is you go to college, you experience this really tough time and you really isolate yourself. Your GPA might drop and you just go through one of the hardest times of your life up until that point," Fajgenbaum explained.

Many of the people who attend the boot camp know that first hand. They came from colleges across the country where they've started chapters of an organization Fajgenbaum created. It's a peer support group called National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers, or AMF.

"Just that connection, peer to peer, knowing other people who are going through it is so important and helps so many people," said Fajgenbaum.

Fajgenbaum's friends and family say his compassion reminds them of his mom who truly believed in unconditional love.

"I think Dave's really taken that to heart and decided he's going to do whatever he needs to do to help everyone in his life live a better life," said Ben Chesson.

Fajgenbaum's goal is to keep the boot camp and other fundraisers going so there can be a chapter of AMF at every college in the country. There are 26 so far, something Fajgenbaum thinks would make his mom proud.

"The one thing that people have fortunately said to me in the last couple of years is your Mom would love this organization. There is no bigger compliment. There's nothing anyone can say that makes me more happy. That's the greatest compliment - the biggest treat is to say your Mom would love this. Your Mom would be so proud. And I don't know if she had any idea that we were going to take it to where we are, but I do think she knows how far we've gone and I think she's so happy for where we are," he said.

Last year, Fajgenbaum led students of AMF while he was in his first year of medical school. This month, the group was able to hire a full-time executive director which Fajgenbaum hopes will help them expand to colleges faster and give him a little more time to focus on school.

Click here to learn more about AMF at studentsofamf.org

You can click here for more information on how to nominate someone to be our Person of the Week.


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