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Lutherville teen awarded major prize for his charity work

Stacy M. Brown | 10/6/2017, 6 a.m.
Jordan Yaffe of Lutherville, Maryland, was awarded $36,000 by the Helen Diller Family Foundation in recognition of his commitment to ...
Jordan Yaffe from Lutherville, Maryland, received the national 2017 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, a prestigious honor given to youth leaders who demonstrate exceptional leadership, community service and action. In 2012, Jordan started his annual “Dunks for Diabetes,” a three-on-three basketball tournament to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association. Courtesy Photo

— Jordan Yaffe of Lutherville, Maryland, was awarded $36,000 by the Helen Diller Family Foundation in recognition of his commitment to “tikkun olam”— repair the world.

The teen, along with 14 other young leaders from across the nation, received the national 2017 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, a prestigious honor given to youth leaders who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, community service and action.

“It is a remarkable honor to be a recipient along with such an amazing group of people,” Jordan said.

“The award and its past recipients represent the commitment to giving to the community that we strive to have ‘Dunks for Diabetes,” he said of his annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament that raises money for diabetes research.

The tournaments take place in several locations around the country and Jordan honors Fred Brancati, an influential doctor who researched diabetes at Johns Hopkins.

“My next-door neighbor growing up, Dr. Fred Brancati, was an influential researcher in the field of diabetes at Johns Hopkins and he tragically passed away from ALS [Lou Gehrig’s Disease] when I was in eighth grade,” Jordan said. “The year before, during the Spring of 2012, I started Dunks for Diabetes to honor his lifelong work. His story not only still inspires me to grow Dunks for Diabetes but also to give to others, in all facets of my life.”

The money raised by Dunks for Diabetes has gone to the American Diabetes Association, whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

Jordan has also used a portion of the proceeds from Dunks for Diabetes for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund in honor of Will Hauver and the Diabetes Egg Crack Challenge.

He says Hauver was an individual who had a great and positive effect on many in the Baltimore community.

The progression of Dunks for Diabetes was evident in its year-to-year growth. Five years ago, 16 middle school teams participated and Jordan was able to raise $2,000 for the American Diabetes Association. Most recently about 48 teams participated helping raise as much as $5,000. In total, Dunks for Diabetes has raised $29,207 and has engaged more than 1,000 players and 100 volunteers over the last 10 tournaments.

“I am energized by finding a genuine sense of purpose and inspiring others to do the same,” Jordan said.

Jordan and the others were recognized at a luncheon last month, which also celebrated the culmination of a weekend-long series of business strategy workshops, networking and mentoring initiatives, during which award winners exchanged ideas with other socially conscious peers and interacted with Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award alumni from years past.

The Helen Diller Family Foundation supports programs and institutions throughout the world, with a focus on education, science, and the arts. The Foundation, which has awarded other major grants and gifts to places and organizations like the University of California Berkeley and Santa Cruz and the De Young Museum, annually recognizes top educators in their field and teens doing charity work.

A highlight of the award presentation was the debut of a special documentary-style video, featuring the accomplishments of Jordan and other teens in a behind-the-scenes chronicle of their leadership achievements. Each participant’s projects were showcased illustrating the ability to affect global change through leadership and community and service, and inspiring hope for viable solutions to even the world’s toughest problems, according foundation officials.

“Being recognized has and will continue to motivate me to grow the fundraiser and to make the world a better place,” Jordan said.