Boy With Leukemia Makes a Wish to Protect the Boundary Waters

Joseph Goldstein, 13 (center, holding northern pike) is in Washington this week lobbying government officials against copper mining near the BWCAW. He’s pictured here in a photo form last summer with Ely guide Jason Zabokrtsky, left, his mother, Kemia Sarraf, right, and his little brothers Jacob, Jonah and Joshua. (Photo by Jeff Goldstein)

A thirteen-year-old boy from Illinois, undergoing chemotherapy to combat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, recently spent a week in Washington, D.C. urging policy-makers to ensure the Boundary Waters remains protected from mining pollution.

Joseph Goldstein was given the opportunity have a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Having visited the BWCAW with his family since he was five-years-old, and knowing about the risks of copper-nickel mine proposals next to it, he decided to ask for a week of lobbying in the nation’s capital.

“Water and runoff won’t understand man’s boundaries, and sulfide-ore mining for copper and nickel will create destructive pollutants that will poison the water, and kill the fish, the animals and the forests of the Boundary Waters. This type of mining is just shortsighted destruction for temporary gain,” Goldstein wrote in a letter to officials.

While in Washington, Goldstein met with Minnesota Congressional representatives including Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, and Rick Nolan. He also met with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The trip was paid for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Goldstein used the one week he gets off from his treatment this year to advocate for the wilderness.

“Joseph is a very special kid. From the first time I met him, when he was six or seven, I thought, this kid is going to be a U.S. senator some day,” Jason Zabokrtsky, the Boundary Waters guide who has accompanied Goldstein’s family on multiple canoe trips, told the Duluth News Tribune.

The trip was also an opportunity for the Save the Boundary Waters campaign to deliver 60,000 petition signatures to lawmakers calling for protection of the BWCAW.

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