“It’s not just a doctor’s office for me,” said Zoe Targoff, a New York City 7th grader, about her decision to encourage her friends and family to donate, in lieu of gifts, to the Berrie Center for her Bat Mitzvah. All told, Zoe raised an extraordinary $40,000 for the Center where she has been a type 1 diabetes (T1D) patient since the age of three. “I knew I had to do some charity for my Bat Mitzvah project,” Zoe added, “and since diabetes relates to me personally, I wanted to do something with the Berrie Center.”
Zoe is hoping that her gift can go to people with diabetes who are not as lucky as she is. “Some people don’t even have the supplies they need to manage their diabetes, let alone the money to buy the supplies,” she said. “I want to try to do something to help them.”
Compassionate beyond her 13 years, Zoe says her diabetes is helping her grow up: “It has made me way more aware of my body, my health and how to take care of myself.” What would Zoe tell other kids who have recently been diagnosed with T1D? “I would tell them that diabetes doesn’t have to change your life completely. Obviously it’s a big change, but it doesn’t have to affect what you do after school or who your friends are. It’s going to affect what you eat and how you eat, but it shouldn’t affect your life and your lifestyle and—and it doesn’t affect your state of mind. That’s the important part.”
Zoe packs her life with athletics, school and friends. She’s on the traveling soccer team after school and plays tennis once a week. For the last year she has also worked hard with a Hebrew tutor to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah. For the uninitiated, a Bat Mitzvah is a ritual in the Jewish religion where a girl becomes a young woman and recites and analyzes a portion of the Torah during the ceremony. Zoe’s Torah part was from the book of Genesis: Chapter 6 to 8—the story of Noah’s Arc:
“I took into account how God wanted to restart the world because people were not perfect,” she said. “But I think it should be OK to not be perfect—and that it was God who was imperfect by making the mistake of erasing everybody.”
Added Dr. Robin Goland, Co-Director of the Berrie Center and J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes, “Thank you Zoe for your truly amazing gift to the Berrie Center. It will have an impact that will make you proud, just as you have made all of us at the Berrie Center proud. You are an inspiration."