University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
June 29, 2009
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6360

Junior High Student Collects Movies for
USA Mitchell Cancer Institute Patients

Ashton Silverstein

Ashton Silverstein

Ashton Silverstein, a rising eighth grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, has collected more than 300 movies for patients at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

The collection will be used by patients during their chemotherapy treatments. They can select from a list ranging from classics and comedies to action movies.

Open and airy, the infusion room at the Mitchell Cancer Institute features computers at each station, allowing patients to spend their treatment time watching movies, checking e-mail or using the computer.

“It’s nice for them to have something to watch while they are taking their treatments,” Ashton Silverstein said.

The son of Tonia and Jerry Silverstein, Ashton said he got the idea to collect movies for the patients this spring. He asked his classmates and teachers at St. Paul’s to contribute to his project. Then, he included information about the collection in the invitation to his recent bar mitzvah, requesting that his guests donate movies to the patients.

“Everyone was a big help and everyone just kind of pulled together,” he said.

MCI Executive Director Dr. Michael Boyd said, "It's wonderful to see such a great community spirit in such a young man. Ashton's work in collecting these movies will provide relaxation to our patients during their treatments. Our ability to combine research and treatment in one facility is enhanced by this type of community support."

MCI Chief Nursing Officer Tracey Hammack said the collection helps keep the patients’ spirits high during the treatments.

“It gives them a much-needed diversion during the toughest time of their lives. My own father had cancer and he told me having cancer is like having a time bomb in your body, just waiting to explode. These movies will hopefully take their mind off of it for a bit.”

Patients can choose the movies from a rolling cart in the infusion room. Often, patient treatments last for several hours at a time and are repeated on a daily or weekly basis, Hammack said.

“It makes them feel like they are more at home if they can search the Web, watch a video, answer e-mail or listen to the radio at their infusion station,” she said.

Tonia and Jerry Silverstein had toured the MCI last fall during its grand opening festivities as donors and told their son about the need to help the patients. The Silversteins are also planning an upcoming fund-raiser for the MCI, the “Celebrate Hope” gala set for Nov. 19.

“I have family members currently battling cancer, and several members who have had it,” Tonia Silverstein said. “This is very important to our whole family, and the whole concept of treatment and research in the same facility is so groundbreaking that it really deserves our support.”

Jerry Silverstein said of the MCI, “This touches the heart of everybody’s family because everyone’s been affected by cancer.”

To donate movies to the MCI, drop off the movies at any of the following locations: the Mitchell Cancer Institute, 1660 Spring Hill Ave.; the Springhill Avenue Temple, 1769 Spring Hill Ave.; M&B Realty Co. Inc. 2321 Airport Blvd.; or GMAC Bowl, 1000 Hillcrest Road, Suite 115.


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