Friendship and fundraising: teammates face cancer diagnosis together

In the heart of a close-knit Massachusetts community, Amine, a young and compassionate swimmer, found himself at the forefront of a cause that was both personal and profound. His friend and fellow swim teammate, Dustin, had been diagnosed with leukemia. The teens had met two years prior at the Bluefish Swim Club, forming a bond during practice. In the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, Dustin had been experiencing some minor health issues, but no one considered it might be cancer. The news struck Amine like a rogue wave.

“I was very shocked when I first heard,” Amine recalls. “I’d heard many cancer-related stories over the years, but I never expected someone I knew would get it.”

Amine was determined to help his friend. He reached out to Dustin’s father, and together they began to lay the groundwork for what would become the Dustin Strong 5K—a fundraiser that would galvanize friends, family, and strangers alike to raise money for pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Creating a fundraiser in honor of Dustin was a way to turn a very negative situation into something positive—something to bring the community together,” Amine says.

Amine assembled a small but dedicated event planning team, including members who knew Dustin personally and others who were simply moved by his story. He collaborated with the planning board for the Sharon High School class of 2024—Dustin’s graduating class—and found an ally in the board’s advisor, Mrs. Jolicoeur, who helped coordinate event logistics and was instrumental in transforming Amine’s vision into reality.

Last October, Dustin and Amine joined supporters on the Sharon High School track for the inaugural Dustin Strong 5K. The event exceeded all expectations, raising nearly $2,000.

“I’m very proud of how supportive people were. Everyone was willing to do their part to make the event go smoothly,” Amine says. “I’m also proud of the turnout, as it showcased my community’s willingness to support this cause and support Dustin.”

For those considering hosting a Jimmy FundRaiser for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund, Amine’s advice is simple: Do it. “The process of setting up the donation site was straightforward, and the Jimmy Fund staff were extremely helpful. They made my ideas come to life.”

As Dustin continues to battle leukemia, Amine refuses to let his friend face the diagnosis alone. He hosted another fundraiser in honor of Dustin in March, proving that even in challenging times, hope can be found in the kindness of friends and the strength of the community. 

Support Dana-Farber patients like Dustin by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.