The Helen Diller Family Foundation has awarded Jordan Yaffe, 18, of Lutherville a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award for his ongoing program, Dunks for Diabetes. Dunks for Diabetes organizes three-on-three basketball tournaments across the country, which donate their proceeds to the American Diabetes Association. The program started in 2012 with only one tournament in Baltimore, but it has since expanded to Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and New Jersey.
Since its formation, the program has raised more than $60,000 from tournaments across the nation, Yaffe said.
Teams are required to pay $15 per player or start a crowdfunding page to raise the money. The tournaments are completely organized and run by teens, some as young as seventh-graders.
Yaffe started the program as part of his bar mitzvah project and in honor of his neighbor, Dr. Fred Brancati, a diabetes researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Brancati, a basketball fan, suffered from ALS for two years before his death in 2013 but not before seeing Yaffe’s program work and speaking at the first ever Dunks for Diabetes tournament.
Yaffe originally wanted to fund ALS research with the program, but Brancati convinced him to channel the money into diabetes research.
Yaffe hopes to expand Dunks for Diabetes, though he acknowledged it would be difficult to manage the program and continue his studies as a freshman at Vanderbilt University next spring.
To that end, he will not be directly managing the Baltimore tournament this coming year. Instead, he will take on a more ambassadorial role, speaking directly with organizations and promoting the program on a national scale.
“With me not having to do the Baltimore tournament this year, it’ll be much easier to expand nationally,” Yaffe said. “I think Dunks for Diabetes has a lot of potential.”
James Whitlow is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.