A successful Coffee House brings money towards neuroblastoma research

Avra Bossov ('11)/ Eastside Global Commentary Editor

Although Max Levine passed away not even a year ago, Coffee House 2009 exemplified the impact his life had on the East community.

Cherry Hill East’s Fourth Annual Coffee House took place Saturday night, March 28th from 7 to 10 p.m. in Cafeteria 1. Hosted by Cherry Hill East Singers and Thespian Society, all proceeds benefited Max’s Fund for Neuroblastoma Research. Admission was $5.

The event raised close to $6,500 for Neuroblastoma Research, selling out of all baked goods and filling the cafeteria to the point where around fifty people were standing at the back. Featuring acts by various East students and faculty, the night was certainly a success.

Before the event officially started, the East Woodwind Quartet, directed by Mrs. Gia Walton, performed in the lobby.

Guests had the opportunity to sit in either folding chairs, at several tables with centerpieces made by Max or on couches or other more comfortable chairs, creating an aura of a true coffee lounge. Video game characters hung from the ceiling, commemorating Max’s love for video games. Besides the acts on stage, attendees had the chance to paint tiles sponsored by All Fired Up or play Nintendo Wii in nearby classrooms, run by Student Government volunteers. Coffee and other refreshments were available just outside the cafeteria. Thespian Society members sold baked goods, with an empty table by the conclusion of the event. Lemonade was available based on donations at an Alex’s Lemonade Stand booth also run by Student Government volunteers.

Wristbands were available for $1 and Coffee House 2009 t-shirts were sold for $12. Outside the auditorium, the East Art Department sold students’ creations and the East Photo Department sold students’ photographs, all proceeds benefiting Max’s fund.

“It’s probably one of the more wonderful events at East. Those of us who knew Max, and even those who didn’t, [knew] it was quite a special event,” said Principal Dr. O’Breza. “The event shows the generosity [of Cherry Hill East].”

Max’s mother, Sue Levine, started off the acts with an inspiring speech commending all attendees for coming and affirming her belief that Max was “there in spirit, looking down on all of us proudly.”

In an interview with Eastside, she said “I have to thank the East community for being so supportive. Tonight was beyond magical—just amazing— it was a perfect evening.”

Max’s sister, Sarah Levine (’07), performed, singing “Love, I Hear,” keeping her brother in her heart. She also thanked the East community for being so supportive, especially her friend Sam Hollander (’09), saying “he just put his arm around me and helped me get through tonight.”

Dr. Maris, Max’s doctor and doctor of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, founder of Alex’s Lemonade Stand who suffered from Neuroblastoma just like Max, addressed the audience.

“Max was just a really, really cool kid,” he said. About Neuroblastoma research, he said. “We’ve come much, much closer to finding a cure.”

Max and Alex, besides sharing the same doctor, actually met and were friendly. Alex’s parents have been incredibly supportive of Max’s parents by taking The Max Levine Fund for Neuroblastoma Research under Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s wing.

The night was emceed by Sam Hollander (’09), Dana Olinsky (’09) and Allison Shernoff (’09). Highlight acts of the night include: Haley Koller (’10), Justin Singson (’10), Brian Reisman (’09) and Dan Dinsmore (’09) performing “Lucky,” Reema Saha (’09) and Harleen Vohra (’10) singing “Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindangi” from box-office hit Slumdog Millionaire, Ian Parker (’11) and Zach Siegel (’11) performing “Chasing Cars,” Caitlin Weaver (’09) singing “All at Sea,” Ethan Rauf (’09) and Andrew Willson (’09) performing “Lost,” Marissa Josephs (’09) and Casey Cutler (’09) singing “Flight” and Ezorah Mach (’09) singing “The Story Goes On.”

The junior girls performed “Bring It All Back” and the seniors sang the “Super Mario Brothers Theme Song.”

There were a couple acts that did not include singing or playing an instrument. Merav Ellis (’11) and Zach Siegel (’11) performed a skit called “Sure Thing” in which the scene was a coffee shop were the two shared a dynamic conversation interrupted by the ringing of a piercing bell, rung until the recipient of the speaker liked his or her answer.

Eastside’s own Ben Branfman (’09) performed an original stand-up comedy act called “Acquired Tastes.” The audience chuckled during his act, which included a few political snipes and hygiene comments, yet also incorporated a serious side of the importance of the event.

“Definitely, tonight, coffee cures cancer,” Branfman said during his act.

In accordance with Coffee House tradition, “Taylor the Latte Boy” and “Taylor the Latte Boy Rebuttal” were included in the event, performed by Allison Shernoff (’09) and Andrew Athias (’11) respectively.

Max truly understood the value of research, which is why he spent so much of his time alive promoting awareness and raising funds. He even consented to experimental drugs as part of his treatment hoping to move research along, always asking “Will it help other kids?” CHOP and other researchers have been examining Max’s case, for Max lived for much longer than originally projected.

Special thanks to Laurie Lausi, East Singers director, Robert D. Nation and Thomas Weaver, Thespian Advisors, Cherry Hill East Theatre and Music Boosters, East Art Department (teachers Ms. Christine Schultz and Ms. Cathy Morgan), East Photography Department (teacher Mr. Bill Kovnat), East Woodshop Class (teacher Mr. Cecil Leonard), East SGA volunteers and advisors Mr. Mike Dappolone and Mr. CJ Davis, East Principal Dr. John O’Breza and East Fine Arts Vice Principal Ms. Betsi McLeester.

Also, thanks to the CBS 3 News for their interest in the event. A DVD presentation of CBS 3’s original coverage of Max’s story was also featured in the event. The night’s sponsors included All Fired Up, Designer T’s, Dynamite Sound, TNT Entertainment and Wawa.

Max Levine was a beloved member of the East community, who would have been a senior this year. His legacy lives on in Coffee House 2009, an event commemorating his life and his efforts in Neuroblastoma research. Thanks to the Cherry Hill and East communities, $6,500 will now be donated to fund further research. Max lives on in all of our hearts, and in the lives of other kids suffering from Neuroblastoma whose lives will be changed by the money raised from Coffee House 2009.