My Tikkun Olam Award was just the beginning

By Fred Scarf, 2008 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award winner

Fred Scarf

Fred Scarf

Three years ago, I was honored as a recipient of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. As a winner, I received $36,000 to put toward college or to further implement my vision for tikkun olam, repair of the world. I put all of it towards my nonprofit, No Worries Now, and it has been instrumental in supporting the organization’s growth and success.

No Worries Now began as the Shiri Foundation. My best friend Shiri passed away from a rare form of bone cancer at only 16, and I have worked hard to turn this tragedy into hope and as we raised money and awareness to support research into curing osteosarcoma. And, since Shiri and I were never able to make it to our prom together, I have organized annual proms for other teens with life-threatening illnesses.

The organization has grown to serve teens battling terminal illnesses, providing events, programs and other resources to empower them and allow them the opportunity to connect with similar individuals and grow their support system. Just last week we put on our fifth prom, held at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, for 500 kids with life-threatening diseases such as cancer—many of whom will not live long enough to attend their own proms. The red-carpet affair drew attention from the Huffington Post and various local news outlets.

Even though the dance floor has been rolled up, however, the excitement among the No Worries Now community is still at an all-time high. The organization is expanding to include a Prom in a Box program, which will give volunteers throughout the country the tools and resources they need to throw their own Now Proms. Another new program will pair teen volunteers with individual patients and send these pairs on monthly outings in order to keep the just-being-a-teen feeling of the prom going all year.

And in the largest expansion of the organization’s mission, No Worries Now and Cal Cord Blood are mobilizing supporters to try to win $25,000 to promote public umbilical cord blood banking through the Pepsi Refresh Project. Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of blood-forming stem cells, which, like bone marrow, can be used to treat more than seventy life-threatening medical conditions, such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and testicular cancer. Donating cord blood is a quick, painless and risk-free procedure for both the mother and infant that involves drawing blood form a vein in the umbilical cord and freezing the cells. Comparatively, bone marrow transplants require a painful, invasive and time-sensitive donation procedure. Bone marrow transplantation also requires a precise match, and people are up to one-hundred times more likely to find a suitable match with cord blood.

Despite its potential, 97% of California’s umbilical cord blood is discarded for lack of a public banking system. New parents do not even have the option to donate cord blood publically rather than paying out of pocket to bank it privately for their own personal use. Meanwhile, according to the National Marrow Donor Program, there are 10,000 people who could benefit from cord blood transplants each year. Only about 25% of these people receive a transplant, and many others die as a result of being unable to find a suitable match.

This is a public voting contest to determine who will get the Pepsi funding, and anyone can vote up to once a day at More information is available at the No Worries Now Pepsi Campaign Team page.

Categories: Awards, Endowment, Teens


July 12, 2011


The Federation