Neither rain, snow, sleet nor gusting winds could stop many of the 680 runners, most of whom are Jewish high school students from New York and New Jersey, from departing Wednesday evening March 7th for Israel from Newark and JFK airports to run, jog or walk in the March 9th Jerusalem Marathon as part of Team Shalva.
As runners arrived at both airports it was clear that the expected nor’easter didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of runners who have been training and fundraising for six months for Shalva.
“We’re so excited for Shalva!” said HANC students Eliana Afrahim and Zoey Gassman, smiling in their personalized Team HANC Shalva shirts. The 6:45pm flight from Kennedy had the largest group with over 150 students who have raised critical funds to benefit the children and families at Shalva.
Runners came from schools and organizations across the United States, Canada and the U.K, as well as gap-year students studying in Israel, and of course, Israelis.
Everyone could feel the excitement of the students as they waited at the gate. The air was filled with smiles and laughter as the kids reunited with friends from camp and from other schools.
Team Shalva is not only the first and largest charity team in the marathon, they are a diverse group of over 680 runners, over 300 from the United States alone, who travel from all over the world to Israel to participate in the Jerusalem Marathon in support of Shalva.
Upon meeting minimum fundraising targets, the Team Shalva experience culminates with a fun-filled weekend that includes a tour of Shalva’s beautiful facilities, a performance by the renowned Shalva Band, pre and post-race parties, a Shabbat program and so much more.
Team Shalva runners unite to make a difference. In addition to the 5K, 10K, full and half marathon tracks that the runners choose from, there is an 800 meter community run that takes place on marathon day which is a Shalva initiative that started eight years ago. Today, it is the track for thousands of children and community members running side by side with individuals with disabilities, a beautiful demonstration that promotes health, inclusion and joy.
Together they are the power of many as they raise the banner of hope, love and human dignity for thousands of individuals with disabilities and their families.
Plans are already underway for the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, March 15th, 2019. For more information on running with Team Shalva in the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon please contact Fran Cohen at 212- 725-0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.