Shalva, Israel’s association for the care, inclusion, and support of persons with disabilities and their families broke a record this morning at the Jerusalem Winner Marathon of 2018. Shalva’s 1,500-strong team ran designated segments of the route, most remarkably the 800-meter long track designated for individuals with special needs. This record-breaking number of participants makes Shalva the largest among the Marathon’s Community teams. It is likewise the longest standing Community Team in the Marathon, a proud member since the first Jerusalem Winner Marathon eight years ago.
Running alongside Shalva kids and their families in the Communities Race were over 550 runners from countries around the world who arrived to run in support of Shalva. Some supporters ran designated segments of the track, while others successfully completed the full 42.2 kilometer route. Shalva Team’s international members hail from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia and were sponsored by assorted parties in order to raise money for the Association and enable it to absorb more children into its programs, expand existing programs, and provide greater support to families.
Waving Shalva’s banner were 300 soldiers from the Duvdevan elite special forces, police officers, fire fighters, MDA volunteers, and many school children from the greater Jerusalem area. Celebrities included Israel’s top tennis player Shahar Pe’er, Olympic medalist Uri Sasson, Hamerutz LaMillion host Ron Shachar, and Miss Israel Rotem Rabi.
Executive Director of Shalva Avi Samuels relays: “The incredible energy felt during the Communities Race was definitely thanks to Shalva’s kids who infected the audience with their natural cheer and joie de vivre. Our kids know that they are an integral part of the Jerusalem Marathon, and at Shalva, we believe that this is a significant social statement, a public declaration that we wholeheartedly embrace people who are different from us into the heart of our national community. I want to thank all the wonderful people out there who were up early this morning, who came to hug our kids, specifically soldiers from the Duvdevan Unit, national security and Hatzalah members, the fabulous kids from Jerusalem elementary schools, Uri Sasson, Shahar Pe’er, Ron Shachar, and Rotem Rabi—whom we all welcome into the Shalva family. I also want to express my heartfelt appreciation to Jerusalem Mayor Mr. Nir Barkat, who enables us to continue this wonderful tradition of the Jerusalem Winner Marathon for the eighth consecutive year.”
For 28 years Shalva, Israel’s Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, has provided transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. Shalva National Center in Jerusalem, the Association’s brand-new $200,000 compound, is the largest and most technologically advanced center of its kind in Israel for children with disabilities. Providing therapy, activities, rehabilitation, and educational programs for 2,000 children on a weekly basis completely free of charge, it is a model and paradigm of caring for individuals with special needs.