By: Joanie Cox-Henry Contributing Writer
Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers. In fact, one person dies of melanoma every hour, every day. Boca Raton teen Brooke Diamond would like to put a stop to that.
The ambitious 13-year-old decided to turn her Bat Mitzvah project into the ultimate mitzvah by working with Boca Raton Beach and Parks District to install four sunscreen dispensers in District parks by Jan. 2020.
Diamond’s ultimate goal is to see these sunscreen dispensers displayed in parks throughout the U.S.
Diamond also collected SPF swim shirts and hats to stuff inside care packages for 46 economically challenged and at-risk children at the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, donated hundreds of bottles of sunscreen to the Caridad Center and participated in the Run from the Rays 5K race, which raised $3,000 for sunscreen dispensers.
“Diamond’s desire to make a difference in our community inspired the board,” Executive Director at Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Briann Harms said. “To see a young person so involved in their community is also inspiring and this is a wonderful project because it’s also promoting skin cancer prevention. Living in South Florida, where we’re constantly in the sun, it’s especially an important cause.”
Harms also mentioned two sunscreen dispensers will be placed at the Boca Raton Swim and Racquet Center and two will be stationed at Sugar Sand Park with one conveniently located near the carousel and the other by the ballfields.
“The Diamond family spoke with the board and we’re really excited about this project,” Harms said. “We also see this as a very successful project.”
The idea all came about as a “pay it forward” way to pay tribute to her late grandfather, Alex Morgenstern, who battled melanoma for several years before succumbing to the disease.
“Brooke is very enthusiastic and optimistic and when she was choosing a mitzvah project, my dad had only been gone about a year,” Brooke’s mother, Lauren Diamond said. “It was very clear that Brooke wanted to do something to honor him and also spread awareness about melanoma, which is totally preventable.”
Diamond originally launched the project by collecting sunscreen before it evolved into placing complimentary sunscreen dispensers in parks. While the Diamond family originally aimed to raise $500, that number impressively grew to $4,000 with community support.
Having a sunscreen dispenser scheduled to be placed near the Sugar Sand Park Carousel where Morgenstern used to enjoy spending time with his family is especially significant for the Diamond family.
As the project continues to grow, Brooke’s younger brother Mitch is eager to continue the work his sister started for his own bar mitzvah project.
“Mitch is raring to go on this,” Lauren Diamond said. “The goal is to continue to raise awareness. I miss my dad everyday and I think something good should come out of something horrible.”
Fellow Boca Raton parents think the sunscreen dispensers will be game changers for local families. “As a busy mom to a two year old, we often go to the park and it will be so convenient to have these dispensers,” said Catino. “I really think it’s a great idea and every park should have them.”
With The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District being very pro-community input, Harms welcomes any new community suggestions or ideas to be sent to her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In Boca, we have many wonderful students involved in community projects and we’re open to new ideas,” Harms said. “Our meetings are always open with public comments and these parks are for the people so hearing from the community is key.”