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Gray Academy honours Grade 12 student Ben Chimol whose life was cut short by cancer this past December

By BERNIE BELLAN (with materials contributed by Gray Academy) In 2019, Gray Academy student Ben Chimol, then in Grade 9, was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer known as Ewing sarcoma.
Ewing sarcoma is “a rare type of bone cancer,” according to information available on the internet. Here is some further information about Ewing sarcoma:
“Ewing sarcoma most commonly affects people who are 10 to 20 years old.
“Like other types of bone cancer, the exact cause of Ewing sarcoma is unknown.
“As the condition tends to predominantly affect older children and teenagers, one theory is that it may be related to fast-growing bones. The rapid growth spurt that happens during puberty may in some way make bone tissue more vulnerable to cancer.”
Ben Chimol had arrived in Winnipeg from Israel in 2017 with his parents, Tatyana and David, his younger siblings, sister Lihi, brother Natan, and his beloved dog, Yuki.
Adapting quickly to life in Canada, Ben was engaged in a full program of activities, including painting, writing music, beatbox, practicing martial arts, skateboarding and enjoying the outdoors as much as he could.
Even after Ben was diagnosed with cancer, he maintained an upbeat attitude. He often paraphrased a line from the movie Scarface: “You deserve the entire world and everything in it.”

Tragically, however, Ben succumbed to his illness this past December. “We have never in the history of our school had a student pass during their time in school,” noted Lori Binder, Gray Academy Head of School.
Lori went on to say that, “for many students this was the first funeral they had attended. Many students may not have ever experienced the loss of a close individual, such as a grandparent.”
In tribute to Ben – days before what would have been his 18th birthday – on March 5, Gray Academy, in conjunction with the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, launched a new fund that will be part of the Gray Academy endowment at the Foundation, to be known as the “Ben Ben Chimol (z”l) Simchat Chayim Fund.”
As an email sent out
to Gray Academy parents on March 4 explained, “Dollars earned annually from this fund will be used for programs in the school that bring joy to others and provide students with opportunities to share their passions and celebrate life. This fund will help to ensure Ben’s legacy lives on in the Gray Academy school community. As his family explains, he enjoyed everything, most of all giving joy to others, ‘Simchat Chayim!’
If you would like to contribute to this fund go to https://www.jewishfoundation.org/ben-ben-chimol-fund
If you would like to watch a video compiled by some of Ben’s classmates that offers a glimpse of Ben Ben’s life, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzlhxQyQNjk As Lori Binder also observed, anyone who knew Ben had “the opportunity to be inspired by the way he lived his life.”

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