Black Belt Trainer Sets up Cancer Fund

Darren Levine creates a tribute to his wife who was a cancer victim.

Darren and Marni Levine started the Sherman Oaks in 2006. Krav Maga, the official self defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, is a simple effective approach emphasizing instinctive movements, practical routines, and realistic coaching scenarios.

Darren, 6th degree black belt and the top Krav Maga trainer in the entire world, is a criminal lawyer with a practice in the Sherman Oaks/Encino area. He’s responsible for teaching Krav Maga to law enforcement officers in the Sheriff’s Department, Delta Force, and Navy Seals. In fact, one of the Navy Seals killed in October during the raid in Afghanistan, was Darren’s student. Every policeman/woman in Sherman Oaks who goes on the street is provided with instruction in Krav Maga.

Darren began The Marni Fund in 2008 as a memorial tribute in honor of his extraordinary wife, who passed away after a long and courageous struggle against cancer.  Marni, a 4th degree black belt in Krav Maga, was the highest ranked woman in the world. She was dedicated to working with children at the Sherman Oaks Center.

The shared aspirations of the Marni Fund, Krav Maga, and Stop Cancer(started by Sherry Lansing, former President of Paramount Pictures, and Armand Hammer of The Hammer Museum), is developing improved treatments, new diagnostic procedures, and the ultimate objective – a cure for cancer.

Because of the unique arrangement STOP CANCER has with the UCLA, USC, and City of Hope Cancer Centers, each research award given is matched dollar for dollar with in-kind support, effectively doubling the value of each donation.

Last month, the 2nd annual 5|10K Run|Walk at Woodley Park, was held to elicit finances for The Marni Fund/Stop Cancer. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMAYqX_RTLo&feature=relmfu for footage from the 2010 fundraiser.

Attending this year’s benefit were Honorary Chair Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, athlete and champion of health and fitness; Congressman Brad Sherman representing the San Fernando Valley; Bruce and Wendy Smiley, Run/Walk Co-Chairs; Robert and Sharon Wiviott, Co-Presidents STOP CANCER; Bette L. Bergsman, Executive Director, STOP CANCER; Marni’s parents, Bruce and Lynn Kaufman; and Darren Levine.


Ali stated she was “very proud to lend my energy to this event so that we can raise the funds necessary to support the scientists and research being conducted for the treatment and early diagnosis of cancer. As a woman with two children I want to ensure we find a cure for this horrible disease.”


Co-Chairs Bruce and Wendy Smiley concluded that this spectacular experience, “was more than we had hoped for.” They imparted to Patch readers, “Let's make it even bigger next year. Thank you to everyone who participated in our fight to Stop Cancer." 

Kaufman, who’s been practicing criminal law in Sherman Oaks for over 40 years, told me it was “heartwarming” to see all the people show up in his daughter’s honor. “It’s hard to put into words,” he explained. He expressed how wonderful it’s been because “everybody’s been touched by cancer in one way or another.” Bruce continued, “It’s a common goal to rid society of this awful disease.”

Since the Marni Fund was created five years ago in honor of his daughter, Kaufman revealed they’ve made $25,000 and $150,000 grants that are matched by Stop Cancer. One researcher was even awarded $5 million dollars from matching resources, due to her outstanding work in the field.

For Bruce, the most touching time was when Ali presented two 7 year old girls bravely battling cancer with signed boxing gloves saying, “Don’t Give Up The Fight.” He confirmed that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Emma Wood, one of the recipients, is currently going through chemo and has been wrestling with leukemia since August 6th. She had 110 people on her team, which was created by her parents. “It was beautiful,” Kaufman articulated.

Grace Suomi , the other little 7-year old, who was recently treated for Ewings Sarcoma at UCLA’s Mattel Childrens Hospital, is a first grade student at the Curtis School in Beverly Hills.

Stop Cancer executive director, Bette Bergsman agreed with Bruce about the memorable moment adding that the “outpouring of community support,” was amazing. “We had local sponsors as well as corporate backers, businesses large and small that provided financial and in-kind support via product donations, and “people” support who showed up to run/walk and reached out to their friends and families allowing us to raise $171,000+.”

Bob Wiviott, Stop Cancer President, acknowledged that he was “invigorated by the response and the vitality that was shown by the participants of the race. It indicates strong encouragement for our mission to conquer cancer.”


Bergsman is grateful on a daily basis for the chance to work with the devoted members of Stop Cancer and the thousands of champions of the cause, who believe the solution is finding a cure through research.  “Together we are making a difference in the fight against cancer.”


If you weren’t able to attend the Run/Walk, according to Bergsman, you can still contribute to The Marni Fund/STOP CANCER throughout the year as other special opportunities arise; donations are accepted on-line at www.stopcancer.org or by calling the Stop Cancer office at 310-841-2600; you can send tribute cards; and more importantly, join as a member to enjoy offerings such as educational forums, etc.

The Sherman Oaks Krav Maga Training Center has become the San Fernando Valley’s preeminent full-service training ground, committed to providing the finest self defense, fitness, and fighting instruction.

The Center is known for their authentic-based schooling that simulates real life violent confrontations. They don’t incorporate any techniques or preparation methods unless they’re effective and practical for the street. They’ve spent years perfecting exercises that help develop an aggressive combative spirit without sacrificing student safety.

Their instructional staff is certified by the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Krav Maga Association Of America Inc. and includes many expert, internationally recognized law enforcement defensive tactics teachers.

Krav Maga Worldwide Training Center Sherman Oaks:
15250 Ventura Blvd, Suite 130
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Keith Austin November 19, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Much love and respects to the loved ones that grieve... Rest in peace...


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