Naomi Sharon and Jen Rubino don’t know one another but both share a common bond — having to battle a disease from a young age and using that as platform to fight for other kids.
While other kids are soaking up the final days of summer, 11-year-old Naomi Sharon is hard at work figuring out how to raise a lot of money.
“Naomi raised over $30,000 last year as part of this event and the event truly was a party,” her dad Nim Sharon said.
Just years after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Naomi threw a massive Halloween fundraising party called “Ghost, Goblins and Glucose.”
“They thought it was amazing and all the people who showed up,” she said.
This year she’s back plotting another fall party at Brother’s Field in Long Grove on September 9 in hopes that someday, it will make it easier for another young person like herself. Complete with hayrides, a gaming truck, tiki bar for the adults and a band in which the lead singer is also living with diabetes.
“My goal is always keep moving and my mom and dad gave me this bracelet that says, ‘Be the Change’ and hopefully I’ll help find a cure for this horrible disease,” she said.
Like Naomi, Jen Rubino of Des Plaines, used her health challenges as a child as motivation to make a difference for other kids. She started “Cards for Hospitalized Kids” where people are encouraged to send greeting cards to kids battling their own health issues.
“Having my own experiences in the hospital I saw firsthand how difficult it is to a child going through that,” she said. “I wanted to help a child going through the same thing. And over the years I’ve seen time and time again just how incredible the impact of the cards really is.”
Over the last few years, her outreach efforts went from a 100 cards in hospitalized kids hands to hundreds of thousands.
“We have a lot of kids who go on to volunteer for us after they recover,” she said. “Which is really impactful because they know how much it brightens their day and they want to pay it forward.”
It’s hard to be young at heart when you’re burdened with a disease but Naomi and Jen are showing others what it means to live young with heart.