Whiz Kid On a Mission: Meet Michael Dell

What started as a service project assignment has blossomed into a major mission to find a cure for a rare disease afflicting two local brothers.



Name: Michael Dell

Age: 14

School: Haverford Middle School 8th Grade

Parents: Sandy and Bob Dell

Sport: Ice Hockey (HMS Team and Haverford Hawks). That's where he got the inspiration for a skating night fundraiser.

Mission: Raise money to help fund research to find a cure for a very rare disease that prevents two local brothers from eating.

What Michael's already accomplished: Sponsored two annual events at the Skatium that have raised more than $30,000.

Two and a half years ago, Michael Dell was a tween with an assignment. He needed a service project for his bar mitzvah. That led Michael to two Haverford brothers (one was a friend of Michael's kid brother) who have a disease that's hard to pronounce and even harder for most adults, let alone a 12-year-old, to wrap their minds around.

Eosinphillic Esophagitis (EE) is a disease that makes it virtually impossible for the brothers to swallow almost anything except a special liquid formula that does not irritate the esophagus.

Michael's second annual Brendan & Ryan Dixon fundraising evening at the Skatium last month brought the Dixon and Dell families, and hundreds of local families out to raise money to fund research and treatment of Eosinphillic Esophagitis EE.

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Michael says he knows Brendan Dixon through sports connections and because Michael's brother goes to the same school as Brendan. "When I learned what this disease is all about I knew I wanted to do it for him," Michael told Patch the night of the event at the Skatium.

This year's fundraiser featured a raffle and a silent auction that included prizes ranging in value up to $6,000. All of it came in because Michael asked friends, family and local businesses for help. In the process Michael learned something great about the Haverford and Havertown community. "It's amazing how charitable people are and how (many things) there are. We have 46 raffle items and we had to cut it off because there wasn't any more room for any more and about the same for the silent auction. So it's really fantastic."

Michael's parents say they are "very, very proud" of their son's effort and "blown away" by the generosity of the public and donors, including an orthodontist ($6,000 complete braces), the Philadelphia Flyers and Merion Golf Club.

Talking about the first year's fundraiser, Sandy Dell says "we thought it would be a little fundraiser and that was it, but it just exploded and just keeps exploding and exploding."

"Michael says he wants to continue to do it until he graduates high school or until they find a cure," his mom explains. "We're really proud of him because it's his creation and he continually funds it." The Dells say Michael paid the Skatium rental fee ("About $200 Michael says) for the hours involved out of the money he received for his bar mitzvah last year.

What Michael shies away from is talking about the fact that all of the items, all of the donations and all of the people who turned out are part of a growing movement that he started.

The bar mitzvah is long over but the lesson from this service project lives on. "I plan to keep doing it," Michael says. "It's a great thing for a good cause."


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