INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Butler University student raised thousands of dollars to support the family of a 5-year-old with stage 4 cancer by committing to grueling daily workouts.
Noah Weiss, a college junior majoring in marketing, asked friends to donate $1 for each push-up he did during the month of January.
He did 100 push-ups daily — usually in sets of 25 — with the goal of raising $3,100 for Michael Esquivel, a boy in Illinois he had never met.
Weiss was inspired to create a fundraiser for Esquivel after his aunt sent him a link to a GoFundMe page benefiting the boy’s family, he said.
“I reached out to the [Esquivel] family and learned more about what they were going through,” Weiss told News 8. “It was really moving… to know what Michael has had to go through at the age of 5. It’s something that you don’t want to see at all and nobody should have to go through, especially at that age.”
Esquivel was diagnosed as a baby with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that develops from nerve cells and almost always affects children.
His cancer went into remission for nearly four years before he relapsed in Dec. 2018, his mother told News 8.
The Chicago-area family travels to New York for Esquivel’s cancer treatments, often documented on the “Prayers for Michael Esquivel” Facebook page.
In 2019, Esquivel underwent 26 rounds of radiation, 15 sessions of immunotherapy, eight rounds of chemotherapy and four surgeries during seven trips to New York, according to the family-run page.
Photos and videos posted by his mother show a boy brimming with curiosity and resilience. Facebook videos show him laughing with doctors while sitting in his hospital bed, singing on Christmas morning days after starting chemotherapy and bowling at the Ronald McDonald House hours after undergoing hive-inducing immunotherapy.
Supporting the tenacious tot by testing his own strength was the “perfect challenge,” Weiss said.
“My mom and my dad are both cancer survivors,” he told News 8. “My grandma on my mom’s side is a cancer survivor and, sadly, my grandma on my dad’s side passed away from breast cancer. In a lot of ways, I felt called to help out.”
Although he completed his month of 3,100 push-ups, Weiss plans to continue his fundraising efforts and campaign to increase awareness of neuroblastoma.
Esquivel’s fight against childhood cancer has instilled a new sense of perspective in many of his college-aged friends, he said.
“It’s easy to get caught in a routine and not understand there’s so much more to life than just making money [and] finding a job,” Weiss explained. “It’s just a reminder that there’s so much more… and that’s the number one goal; to help each other and lean on each other during tough times.”