On August 1, 550 cyclists will clip in and ride 180 miles over two days as part of Chai Lifeline’s ninth annual Bike4Chai. The bicycling event raises funds for Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network which provides emotional, social, and financial support to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and more than 5,400 families around the world.
Bike4Chai begins at the Marriott in Princeton, New Jersey, on the morning of August 1. Cyclists will ride 180 grueling miles through three states over the next day and half. On the afternoon of August 2, they will pass through the world’s greatest finish line, the entrance gate to Camp Simcha Special, Chai Lifeline’s overnight camp for children with chronic illnesses and medical challenges. There, the cyclists will be greeted by 120 campers, many of whom need wheelchairs, respirators, or other medical equipment to survive, as well as hundreds of family and staff members, who will celebrate along with them.
“Bike4Chai and its sister ride, Tour de Simcha, bring out the best in people,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s executive vice president. “Participants are competing not to win but to inspire their communities and the families of Chai Lifeline. With every mile, they help children facing serious pediatric medical challenges and their families to access crucial programs and services that enable them to find joy and hope in everyday life.”
Joining the 550 cyclists are Cadel Evans, who won the Tour de France in 2011; 17-time Tour de France competitor George Hincapie; Ryder Hesjedel, who won the Grand Tour at the 2012 Giro d’Italia; Christian Vande Velde, a retired American professional road racing cyclist; former New York Giant Amani Toomer; former New York Ranger Mike Richter; actor Sean Ringgold; and members of Israel’s professional cycling team, Israel Cycling Academy.
Many of the cyclists are participating to inspire others and to give back to Chai Lifeline for the impact the organization has had on their own lives. Through two-dozen, free, year-round programs and services delivered through 12 regional offices and international affiliates, Chai Lifeline brings joy and hope to those impacted by pediatric illness or untimely loss.
JJ Eizik, who is riding in his fifth Bike4Chai, learned to use an adaptive hand cycle after surviving four bouts of cancer and the amputation of his left leg. He spent four summers at Camp Simcha, the last two as a staff member, and hopes to use his life to inspire those with challenges to see the possibilities in their own lives. “I think that it is important for people to see that no matter what life throws at you, if you want to do something for yourself or for others, you can do it,” he said. “I have an obligation to help and inspire whoever is going through something rough. If they can see that someone else prevailed, I’m happy I can give that over.”
Another rider, Yossi Rotberg, was born with physical challenges that delayed normal development. He began walking at five, but once he started, Rotberg could not be kept back. At nine, he learned to ride a bicycle and he has been overcoming obstacles ever since.
“I’m doing this for others and for myself,” said Rotberg, who will ride in his third Bike4Chai. “I feel like I’ve accomplished so much already in my life. I went to regular schools and I have a regular life. I hiked Mount Washington, the highest peak on the northeast United States, so I know this is true: nothing in life is impossible.”
“Chai Lifeline was there for me when my daughter was sick,” said cyclist Shmuel Weitzner. “They provided food, transportation Big Sisters, Camp Simcha, and many, many other services. Riding with Bike4Chai allows me to give back to the organization that helped my family so much.”
To learn more, please visit bike4chai.com.