By Kate Anslinger
It’s a well-known fact that Winthrop is a tight-knit community, but April Cohen knows firsthand just how supportive the town’s residents can be.
In mid-October, April’s son, 9-year-old Joshua Cohen, fell while running around at Ingleside Park, doing what most third graders do when the weather is nice. That same day, April took Joshua to the doctor after he complained of pain in his side. After confirming that it was not a broken rib, the doctors informed her to keep an eye on him. Two days later, Joshua was taken to Children’s Hospital in an ambulance after the doctor at the urgent care discovered a laceration in his kidney. The laceration turned out to be the result of a cancerous kidney.
Just a week earlier, Joshua had been preparing to earn his black belt in karate, showing no symptoms of pain, and now he was having a major abdominal surgery to remove his kidney. Following the surgery, he underwent radiation, and he is currently going through chemotherapy treatments at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which will last throughout the summer.
“He’s been stronger than many grownups,” said April, who has witnessed just how resilient her son is.
While the Cohen family is facing a challenging time, the Winthrop community has embraced them with open arms, and they are grateful for the support from the staff at both the Gorman Fort Banks School where their youngest son, Alex attends and the Arthur T. Cummings School where Joshua attends.
“Whenever someone in our school community is facing adversity, we are reminded what a special town Winthrop is,” said ATC Principal Ryan Heraty. “Since the news of Joshua’s diagnosis was shared, the overwhelming support and generosity have been unmatched. The Cohen family is extremely grateful for all the love and support. Joshua is an extremely bright and strong boy. He is teaching us all what it means to be resilient and face a challenge head on. This is such an important life lesson for our students and for our community members, and Joshua is leading the way.”
In order to make sure Joshua’s fellow classmates understood what he was going through, Jimmy Fund staff members came to the ATC school to educate the third-grade class in an age-appropriate manner.
Heraty, who is working on a fundraiser that will be held later this winter, is open to talking to anyone who is interested in learning how they can help out. He can be reached at: [email protected]
In addition to the schools, the Winthrop Marketplace has launched a fundraiser that will give the community an opportunity to contribute. Tickets will be available for purchase and a $500 gift card to the store will be raffled off at a later date. All proceeds will go to the Cohen family to assist with Joshua’s medical expenses.
“We are a community store that only survives because of our customers and we do our best to give back and support our customers as they’ve supported us,” said Winthrop Marketplace Manager Chris Wallerce, who jumped on the opportunity to help out the Cohen family.
The support has come in from all areas of the community, including a young boy named Frankie Costantino, who is turning 8 at the end of the month. For his birthday, Frankie, a friend of Joshua’s brother, is foregoing birthday gifts and has made a plea for donations to be made to the Cohen family instead. If you are interested in helping Frankie, checks can be made out to the Cohen Family and sent to 82 Main St., Winthrop, MA, 02152.
As the Cohen family faces challenges ahead, they are comforted in the fact that Winthrop is on their side.
“I’m so grateful for the support of the community,” said Cohen, who is equally impressed with the care and support that she has received at the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
If you are interested in making a donation, it can be made out to “The Cohen Family Fund,” at the Webster First Federal Credit Union. Donations can also be made to The Jimmy Fund in Joshua’s name.