A teenager's last wish will live as a movie

Rina Goldberg, here with her parents, Ari and Stacy, died at 15 while working on her film script.
Rina Goldberg, here with her parents, Ari and Stacy, died at 15 while working on her film script. (Robin Trautmann)
Posted: February 21, 2012

Rina would have loved it - the attention of a Hollywood filmmaker, the interest from a Food Network personality, the gathering of so many friends and family.

She won't be there. But everyone will be thinking of her.

On March 1, the Make A Film Foundation, similar to the Make A Wish Foundation, will hold a benefit at Gratz College in Melrose Park to support the production of the movie that Rina left behind: The Magic Bracelet, the story of a mystical link between two friends.

Rina Goldberg, daughter of Stacy and Ari Goldberg, was 15 when she died in December 2010 of mitochondrial disease, an incurable illness in which cells generate less and less energy, eventually causing the failure of whole systems.

Rina Goldberg began writing the script about a year before her death, an effort to distract herself from difficult medical challenges - but also as a way to spread her philosophy: Love one another. Make each day count. And dream big.

"She would have loved the fact that her vision of 'Dream Big' was happening," her mother said, "and she would have loved the fact that it would have inspired other kids who are sick to not let their illness define them."

Among her last words to her mother were: "Promise you'll take care of my film."

The benefit will feature Marc Summers, host of the Food Network's Unwrapped and executive producer of Dinner: Impossible, as master of ceremonies. Also included will be an appearance by noted percussionist Leonard "Doc" Gibbs, and a video message from Diablo Cody, the Academy Award-winning writer of Juno, who is adapting Rina Goldberg's work into a short film.

 Organizers hope the evening will generate buzz and energy for the making of the film, as well as raise awareness of mitochondrial disease. The film will cost about $45,000 to make. Some funding will come from major Los Angeles film companies that typically make donations to these projects.

Filming is scheduled to start in Los Angeles at the end of March, featuring actress Bailee Madison, whose credits include Bridge to Terabithia and Just Go With It. A Hollywood premiere is set for June.

MAFF grants film wishes to children with serious or life-threatening conditions, helping them create films with support from noted actors, directors, and writers. MAFF's most recent film, Deep Blue Breath, is based on the true experiences of Clayton Beabout, a Kansas boy who endured more than 40 operations as a result of a rare, life-threatening disorder. That movie has been screened at 25 festivals nationwide and won many awards.

The Benefit Event

March 1 at Gratz College in Melrose Park. Tickets can be purchased online via the "Rina's Project" tab at www.makeafilmfoundation.org. General admission is $25, students $18. Tickets at the door $5 higher.

Gratz College is at 7605 Old York Rd. Preceding the 7 p.m. benefit is a 6 p.m. VIP reception and silent auction. For more information, contact MAFF president Tamika Lamison at 323-273-9954.

Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415, jgammage@phillynews.com, or @JeffGammage on Twitter.