Madonna, Cher, Michael Bublé and Kathleen Turner are among the guests for the annual cycling tour called "Wheels of Love," which broke records for Israel's top ALYN child restoration hospital, raising more than 3, $ 5 million.
The five-day hike, which offers a wide variety of routes for many levels of riding, just ended in Israel. The goal was to raise $ 3.2 million for children at ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem, a non-profit medical center established 85 years ago to restore sick children as soon as possible. Until the end of the route, this figure reached $ 3,517,634.
It is the most comprehensive annual international sports charity event in Israel, involving hundreds of riders and volunteers from the Jewish state and around the world.
Approximately 600 cyclists participated with the largest number of riders from Israel (almost one-third) fleeing from the United States. During the first three days, riders enjoyed difficult road and mountain routes to the south and the Dead Sea, and in the last two days riders saw the slopes of Judean Hills. At the end of the journey, cyclists from all walks of life converge and drive along with a police escort to the hospital where they receive a hero from today's patients, staff, friends and families gathered to pay tribute in their efforts and generosity.
"Entering ALYN on the last day of riding is a very exciting but humiliating experience," says Ben Cohen, who runs with the AK Riders team around his home town of Woodmere, NY. "You just spent five days driving, surpassing many hurdles – heat, wind, rough ground, crazy slope, grueling uphill, and then you see the children who every day of their life wake up with great challenges … and give us medals! "
Harmon Grossman from Teaneck, N.J., completed the mountain course eight times. "People are talking about all the sacred sites in Jerusalem, but I can tell you that the most sacred site in Jerusalem is the hospital where practitioners and volunteers help children from every corner of Israel to overcome the deepest challenges they can pose the life.
He adds that "the final climb to Jerusalem is always a natural challenge, but when you drive to the hospital and there are these deeply disabled children happily waiting to see you and place a medal around your throat, well, I'm not ashamed to tell you cry every year. "
It was the sixth time that Ron Offer was involved. The offer, training for the round in and around Silver Spring, MD, says the children of ALYN are the "real heroes / heroines" of the route. "They fight each day of the year long after we get out of our bikes. They have not been volunteered for the upward effort on their part and can not simply "stop" when they want. They fight and do not leave it everyday. "
Indeed, the most inspiring group of participants are the patients and former patients themselves – the Swift and Bold ALYN Riders, who participate fully or only for a day on bicycles, in one hand or even on a regular bike, according to the individual ability and under the guidance of special volunteers.
"I feel amazing," said 17-year-old Qais Oweis, who had just passed 50 km of cycling on his bike for the second time. Qais, who can now walk with crutches after having undergone multiple interventions, has been restored after operating at ALYN for months.
Redefine their capabilities
Ruth Witztum, physiotherapist at ALYN's rehabilitation center, has performed Swift and Bold for the past 7 years. A motorcycle alone, during the first year at ALYN, traveled to "Wheels of Love" as a participant. The following year, he looked at the healing children and thought that some of them could join. At first, children and families thought it would be impossible. Some could not walk, some could only get assisted steps – and Witztum asked them to lead the race 2km!
But the children got to the challenge and Route saw a remarkable change. The "dreamy" 2 kilometers became 10 kilometers. with this, children's self-confidence increased, as did their parents' confidence. Parents were so accustomed to working on schedules around treatment times that had to "change speed" and to know they are now organizing planning around training sessions. Children who could not participate in other post-school activities were now members of the group.
According to Witztum, "having a bike has given these children better health, independence and mobility." We simply needed to find the right bike for everyone, most importantly, the success of the rider allows them to redefine themselves no longer their disabilities, but their driving abilities. "
Now, children aged 10 to 22 are seriously trained with a group of volunteers for four months leading up the road. This year, there were 15 members of the Swift and Bold Team, who took off-road and road trips to parallels and cyclists along with other cyclists from Israel and abroad.
The donations collected in the campaign help bridge the gap between the hospital's actual costs, the quality of the interdisciplinary rehabilitation treatment it provides, and the return of the normal official dose received for each hospitalized child.
Dr Maurit Beeri, director of ALYN Hospital, explains that "the funds that are gathered allow us to provide children with the therapies and treatments they require instead of limiting care to the basic needs covered by Israel's national health care system. Every additional dime goes to additional therapists, a wider choice of emotional support conditions, innovative interdisciplinary programs and more care. It helps give the child the extra chance that can make a difference in the world. "