2010 Matthew Wiederkehr Leadership Award - Michael Budlow and Justin Rothberg: Hoops for Hope


It isn’t hard to imagine that dinner conversation at the Wiederkehr-Rothberg house often turns to issues surrounding Matt’s Promise. For a long time, Justin Rothberg has been hearing about the projects funded by Matt’s Promise and its cornerstone project — fighting Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

One dinner conversation revolved around Charley Seckler, the young son of Matthew Wiederkehr’s childhood best friend. Justin learned over the last few years that Charley’s condition is worsening. He learned that there is no cure. He learned the nasty truth about Duchenne muscular dystrophy — that most, if not all, boys end up in a wheelchair by the age of twelve, and that year by year, it robs those afflicted with this dreadful disease of the ability to breathe. Needless to say, the facts jolted Justin into action.

Together with his friend Michael Budlow, Justin created Hoops for Hope, which was born out of necessity. Both boys felt that not only was it important to raise funds to delve into research for a treatment but that it was critical to raise the hopes of the sixty thousand boys who suffer from this deadly illness. On April 18, 2010, an action-packed, fun-filled three-on-three basketball and free-throw contest was held at Millburn High School to support Matt’s Promise’s core mission of helping Charley and other boys with DMD.

“What spawned the ideas was that all of our friends love sports and we have been athletic our whole lives,” Justin Rothberg said. “What better way to raise money and have a good time than to play Charley’s favorite sport — in honor of him!”

This will become an annual event that will have the potential to inform young people and propel them to act in a compassionate and earnest way. Justin and Michael have shown others that people can have an impact, no matter their age or level of experience. Everyone can make a difference. “It was definitely a success, and we will make it a tradition at our school,” Justin added.