PRESS RELEASE: New Jersey takes first step to continue Wyckoff soccer star’s legacy

TRENTON, N.J. – Benjamin Landel inspired everyone during his nine-month battle with NUT midline carcinoma, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer.

In his honor today, the state Assembly passed a joint resolution (AJR103) designating January of each year as NUT Carcinoma Awareness Month.  The resolution is sponsored by Assemblymen Kevin J. Rooney and Christopher P. DePhillips.

Landel, who lived in Wyckoff, spent his final months after his diagnosis fighting for and with others who had the disease.  The local athletic community quickly rallied around the Ramapo High School soccer and track star.  He passed away last January.

“Raising awareness can help others struggling with symptoms receive the correct diagnosis,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “That was Ben’s hope. It is our privilege to honor him with this resolution. He was a determined, courageous, selfless teenager who helped others while overcoming many obstacles as he battled this horrible disease.”

NUT carcinoma is a rare, genetically defined, aggressive cancer found mostly in boys. It usually presents in the head, neck, and chest, and may involve the nostrils, tongue, sinuses and bladder. The average survival rate is six to nine months.

“This disease is often overlooked and difficult to diagnose because its symptomsmimic those of other cancers,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Ben and his teammates did an incredible job of bringing this awful disease to the attention of the nation. Despite multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, Ben continued to reach out to others. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him.”

Landel’s coach and teammates created a social media fundraising campaign, the “Ben Landel Cross Bar Challenge” that went viral and attracted high-profile supporters such as Carli Lloyd, a member of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. 

A GoFundMe campaign tied to the challenge raised nearly $43,000 for Landel’s medical bills. When his parents asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said he wanted a portion of the money raised for his treatment donated to pediatric cancer research.

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