group of over 45 energetic, physically fit people plan to cycle 400 km in
central and northern Israel, over a six-day period, to help raise funds for
the patients at ALYN Hospital, a pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation
center in Jerusalem, Israel.
Joe Djemal, a physician
from Jerusalem says, “My daughter Avital will be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah
the day following our return from the bike ride. She sees this ride as integral
to her preparations and has rallied her school friends and youth movement
members to help the ALYN kids in various ways. We are asking them to help
us in our efforts to raise money. I have committed to raise a minimum of
$10,000 in support of ALYN Hospital. The riders this year have decided to
earmark the majority of the money raised to help in the rehabilitation of
victims of road accidents.”
The cyclists are
all leaving their other commitments from careers and family to devote time
to children who are living with a broad range of physical disabilities resulting
from trauma and head injuries from road accidents, neuromuscular diseases,
cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, congenital deformities, general pediatric
orthopedics, infants needing intermediate ventilation, special feeding management,
rehabilitation of cancer patients, burns victims and children with developmental
As cyclists they know the feeling
of accomplishment and the mental high a person gets from physical exercise.
The high reaches a zenith when one knows, that via this effort others will
also get the help they need to reach their greatest level of potential. On
November 4th, 2001, men and women between the ages of 18 and 50 something,
will do just that. Israelis will be joined by cyclists from the USA and Germany
to raise money. Like the patients at ALYN, the riders come from a variety
of religions and races. Together, they share the common goal of helping children,
who cannot help themselves.
“In honor of my son Jeffrey becoming
a Bar Mitzvah this coming December, Jeff and I have taken on a challenge
of a lifetime by participating in Wheels of Love. I live in Highland
Park, Illinois. My wife, Rhonda Baruch Feldman used to work at ALYN, and
is now the chairperson of the Chicago Friends of ALYN. We have made ALYN
part of our family ever since,” wrote Robert Feldman. The father and son
team will travel to Israel. During Wheels of Love, Jeffrey will read the
Torah during the ride in Israel and Robert will cycle.
Each participant in Wheels of Love
spends $300 to participate in the ride, which begins in the Golan and ends
in Jerusalem. Included in those participating in the ride this year is a
volunteer from Germany and two staff members.
ALYN’s rehabilitation program is
implemented via three units: intensive care for comatose patients and acute
spinal injuries; trauma and post-surgical care; and elective rehabilitation.
The hospital currently has 93 beds
for hospitalized patients, 100 beds for day-care treatment and an Out Patient
Clinic which receives some 4000 to 5000 patient visits a year.
Using a multi-disciplinary approach
allows ALYN staff to treat every aspect of a child’s condition so that they
can improve through a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
The $250,000 goal for this event is
as steep as some of the mountains in the ride. With funding to non-profit
institution down, people are having a hard time getting pledges on the money.
Laurence Lebor, who has been cycling to help raise money for charity for
the past seven years, is finding this year much harder to raise money. It
pains him to think that kids may not get the help they need and deserve due
to a lack of funds. “Last year we all had breakfast with the kids, and had
a chance to get to know them,” says Lebor.
Marty Friedlander, one of the riders
and organizers, reinforces, “The only reason this pack of grown men (and
this year, women) is submitting to this ridiculous endurance test is ALYN
Hospital, Israel’s foremost pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation center.
It is an institution that never fails to amaze and move me. ALYN takes broken
young bodies and spirits and does everything possible to mend them. ALYN
has a reputation for being the most caring, innovative institution of its
kind in Israel. This caring and innovation do not come cheap. ALYN’s widely
lauded, multidisciplinary approach means that the kids are attended by all
sorts of therapists, physicians and rehabilitation specialists. The costs
of the various specialized medical treatments and therapies are nowhere
near being covered by the official hospitalization fees received for each
child referred to ALYN Hospital.
“Vis-a-vis the “situation” in Israel,
I feel that the ALYN ride makes a strong statement in several ways. Suffice
it to say that we cyclists are determined not to let our enemies decide how
we are going to live our lives. Last year, there were ten of us, all from
Israel. This year, over 45 riders have registered, including several from
“Although ALYN has been playing a
critical role in rehabilitating several of the younger victims of the violence
(including a baby boy nearly killed in a mortar attack), it is at the forefront
of healing those injured in a war that claims even more casualties – road
accidents. The riders have earmarked a large part of this year’s funds to
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Israel, thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause.