Last Friday, March 18th, the streets of Jerusalem were coated purple when the almost one thousand runners of Team SHALVA took the Jerusalem Marathon by storm to raise the inclusive banners of hope, love and human dignity. Team SHALVA is the largest charity team in the marathon and has been an active participant in the event since its inception six years ago.

Two hundred and fifty members of Team SHALVA came from countries abroad. Athletes from the US, Canada and the UK raised crucial funds to directly benefit the children of Shalva. The international contingent of Team SHALVA made up a staggering ten percent of all international runners in the marathon. From the US alone, young adults from fifteen high schools formed sub-groups within Team SHALVA. The collective, international support for Team SHALVA, coming from literally all over the globe is an amazing testimony to Shalva’s international impact on behalf of the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Shalva, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Municipality spearheaded an initiative to launch a disability-accessible track, a project latter dubbed the Community Run. This year, the Community Run was bigger than even with four hundred runners of all abilities took to the track in an amazing display of inclusive values. The runners on this track included the children of Shalva, their families and staff members as well as good-hearted volunteers from the international community and a large group of IDF soldiers.

One more inspiring anecdote: Tal Kedem; a participant in Shalva’s After School Activity Center, has dreams of being a famous athlete. Last year he partook in the Community Run and we were so proud when he crossed the finish line. However this year Tal really stepped it up a notch and partook in the 10k run, an incredible feat for anyone!

Shalva’s impactful presence in the Jerusalem Marathon is both a meaningful fundraising initiative as well as a powerful proof that the seeds of inclusive ideals are bearing their fruits for the benefit of society at large.