Fundraiser honors young life lost and raises GFC scholarships

A party at the New York Eatery on May 15 celebrated the life of young Frankie Berko. Nearly 75 people honored the youngster in an inspiring and festive way.

Friends and family ate, drank, danced and “lived like Frankie”. The event paid tribute to Frankie, whose life was cut short after suffering an epileptic seizure – after surviving a serious accident in 2019.

A foundation – livelikefrankie.com – was set up in his honor and, in what would have been his Bar Mitzvah year, his loved ones came together to celebrate.

“Everyone who attended the event really knows what it means to live like Frankie, and we plan to spread that love until everyone knows what it means,” said Frankie’s mother, Jen Berko. , at the JHV.

“The event was packed with Frankie’s friends from different parts of her life, and it was lovely to see how everyone hugged.”

As a fundraiser, the rally provided scholarships for children to attend Greene Family Camp, especially families struggling financially due to medical issues.

Berko’s dear friend, Miriam Goott, came up with the idea for a party and hired vendors to donate their services.

New York Eatery’s Riana Sherman, who is a close friend of the family, donated the restaurant’s space and food, while Cory Baum and Jordan Scheiner donated their time with DJ and photography services. free, respectively.

Zadok Jewelers donated a necklace, Dessert Gallery donated a gift card, Jordan Scheiner donated a photo shoot, and a few families donated tickets to the Texans and Astros.

“Frankie’s camp cabin and friends attended the event, with a family from Austin going back and forth in one day,” Berko said. “This family noticed how Frankie changed their lives.

“They explained that Frankie was known to everyone at camp as the kid who was enthusiastic about everything and always got everyone involved in whatever he was doing. They said he was an amazing friend to everyone.

Inspire others

The Live Like Frankie Scholarship Fund and Dance Off Fundraiser were born out of tragedy. From a cut short life came a unique way of sharing love, compassion and joy in life – one person at a time.

To know Frankie is to know true love and compassion for all people and sentient beings. He embodied these qualities and spent most of his life befriending non-friends, volunteering to help others, displaying a passion for kindness, and living every day to the full.

It may seem like an overstatement to describe a 10-year-old in this way, but you don’t have to look beyond teachers, neighbors, friends, and strangers to know it’s true.

His fourth-grade teacher said he had changed his life. She said Frankie was not afraid to share her Judaism. When Christian holidays arrived and were celebrated at school by a majority of Christian students and staff, he would stand proudly, time and time again, to explain that his holiday was different. He then shared his holiday traditions and the reasons for them with his class. Her teacher explained that the conversations he had with her about her devout faith made her examine its connection to her own faith. It deepened his connection. “He changed my life,” she said.

Neighbors love to share how, unbeknownst to the Berko family, Frankie was going door to door to see if the neighborhood kids could hang out. Each time, he asked the adults how they were doing. If the kids weren’t home, he would sit and have long conversations with the adults, inquiring about their day and sharing with great enthusiasm, which made the neighbors laugh. One neighbor, in particular, told the family that Frankie’s stories were their favorite family conversations. He changed their life.

Frankie has done charitable work at the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism and with local charities. Once he took his cart and went door to door selling signs for donations to a local charity. On a day of mitzvah at HCRJ, Frankie was helping a much older man by teaching him how to create the memories they made. He did these things without any pressure from adults.

Every Mitzvah day, he could be found at the Plant A Smile table, where they decorated flowerpots and planted beautiful flowers in them to send to the residents of Seven Acres. He has appointed himself Director of Plantations each year. He changed lives.

While he had lots of friends, he always seemed to find the kid who had no friends and befriend them. A mother who had to put her child in another school regularly called Frankie’s mother for play dates, because Frankie was the only child to befriend him and he was happy to play any game he wanted. her child wanted to play. He changed lives.

On September 12, 2019, Frankie lost his life very suddenly. He had survived a serious accident and subsequently was diagnosed with epilepsy. He was put on medication and made a miraculous recovery. He was called the miracle child throughout the hospital.

There was no way of knowing that after school on September 12, Frankie would have a seizure and not wake up.

His death was ruled a Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

“To this day, our family remains in shock,” Berko said. “We have raised thousands of dollars for the Epilepsy Foundation because research is badly needed. However, we know that’s not how Frankie would like to be remembered. Frankie would like us to help others on his behalf and so the Live Like Frankie Scholarship Fund was established with Greene Family Camp. He called GFC, ‘The happiest place on earth.’

Frankie could never accept a child missing summer camp. For many children, camp is the only time they are with other young Jews. This year alone, the fund has awarded full scholarships to three families with more to come. A session at camp costs close to $5,000.

This was the first in-person fundraiser. More are planned for the future, including in April, in honor of Frankie’s birthday.

Learn more about Frankie at livelikefrankie.com. To donate to the scholarship fund, go to greene.org/donate/live-like-frankie.

About Michael Bill

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