a4On Sunday, October 27, nearly 250 people joined The Jean Fischman Chabad Center’s Friendship Circle of the Five Towns for the second annual Bike4Friendship. The children and volunteers of Friendship Circle, along with their families and the community at large enjoyed an afternoon of solidarity, promoting inclusion, and raising funds and awareness for children with special needs.

The Friendship Circle, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004, has a refreshing approach to helping families of children with special needs. Teen volunteers bring the spirit of true friendship and unconditional love to the children, who participate in recreational, Judaic, social, and educational programs. The funds raised from this bike ride will help expand the services and activities that The Friendship Circle offers our community.

The glorious October day, brightened by sunshine, mirrored the warmth and enthusiasm of the atmosphere at the event. The local streets of the Five Towns, busy with typical Sunday afternoon traffic, were alive with colorful balloons and positive energy. Everyone felt unified, welcomed, and accepted. Bike riding together around our neighborhood exemplified the vision of The Friendship Circle: a world of acceptance, peace, and harmony. Every creation is significant and necessary to the picturesque painting of life.

This year, the new 10K bike ride and the family walk were completed by volunteers and supporters who braved the challenge and collectively raised more than $25,000. All funds directly benefit individuals with special needs and their families. At the same time, our volunteer body is empowered with the gift of giving, a gift more valuable than money can buy.

Participants were addressed by Rabbi Wolowik, executive director, who expressed his gratitude to the sponsors–the backbone of the program–the dedicated volunteers, and to all those who have participated to show support to this significant cause. Melissa Spector, a volunteer, spoke about her experience benefiting from the all the amazing Friendship Circle programs and how she feels to be able to give back to the community.

The bike ride and walk concluded with an exciting finish line party including an inflatable obstacle course, photo booth and music by Gary Wallin, Home Depot workshop, delicious barbecue by Prime Time Catering, face painting by Shaindel, clowns by Lev Leytzan, and crafts by Individualized Family Cares.

“This bike ride was the best I have ever done, and to be able to do it with my son at my side makes me very proud,” said one rider. “We are counting down to next year’s ride.”

Thanks to South Shore Bicycle for their support, Gourmet Glatt for providing pre bike refreshments, and Lantern Investments Inc. for the unwavering support. The team that raised the most money was the Spector Family! The first biker to cross the finish line was Mr. Shlomy Hartstein! The Friendship Circle director, Mrs. Batsheva Borenstein, said, “It was a humbling experience to be a part of something so large, and bike for such a great cause. I am truly amazed at the outpouring of support from the community, and wish I could thank each person individually for being a part of our circle.”

It’s still not too late to donate or sponsor a biker. Visit www.Bike4friends.com or for more information about the Friendship Circle and pictures, visit www.FC5towns.com. v


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