I Did It, You Can Too!
Jackie Schlanger Teaneck, NJ
I joined Team Yachad as a way of acknowledging my gratitude and to give back to an extraordinary organization that we have benefited from. My daughter, Tamar, has been a Yachad member for over 15 years. For once, instead of getting, I was in a position to give-to give thanks to Yachad, to give recognition to the organization and its extraordinary staff and volunteers, and to raise awareness of the vital work and services it provides to the community. Little did I anticipate that once again I would be receiving more than I gave. Spending the pre-race weekend with the rest of Team Yachad, supporters and some of the Yachad staff and board members, I was treated to an exhilarating and uplifting experience. The infectious enthusiasm and commitment that I saw in my fellow team members showed that ‘Kulanu B’Yachad’ is more than a slogan. The encouragement everyone gave to their fellow runners and Yachad members who attended- many of whom were runners too-showed that the message is more than just a slogan, but it is a way of life. On Race Day, at milepost 11 Yachad members and supporters manned a water station. Just the sight of them gave a lift and reminded me why we were running: not just for the accomplishment of a job well done but to show everyone that Yachad members can participate in life’s daily activities in all of it’s forms. Runners, spectators and other volunteers could also see and experience firsthand the message of inclusion that Yachad has been spreading for all of these years. The race was a microcosm of what our Yachad members go through every day as they face life’s challenges and meet them with the support and encouragement of others.
Beth Gindi Los Angeles, CA
I feel I have done many amazing things in my life, I have been to Africa and I have seen the sun rise over the Sahara. I have been to Venice, Italy and I have seen the setting sun over the canals. I watched my family grow closer together after my grandfather passed away. I went on a cruise to Alaska and I saw the icebergs before they melted. I went on NCSY Give two summers ago and volunteered all over Israel, I went on Yad b’Yad this past summer and spent my entire summer becoming friends with Yachad members. I am on the Yachad board in Los Angeles and I have seen many people grow through Yachad and its programming.
But I have NEVER done anything like the Half Marathon. There is something about waking up at 3:30 in the morning and driving to the race after an amazingly inspirational Shabbat, after months and months of training and fundraising. There is something about running for something that you love, something that inspires you, something that has given you more than you could have ever hoped for. Yachad has changed my life in so many ways, I can not even count, and this marathon was an amazing way for me to give back. First the fundraising, which was really hard, I mean it is $3,000! But after a while it became fun, because I got to tell people about the organization I love so much. And then the training, which was brutal! I am not an athletic person, and I do not run. But I trained, not completely following the training schedule, but I did the best I could, and you know what, I made it. And finally the marathon itself! It was unbelievable that I was running with over 20,000 people, and it was unbelievable that 135 of them were with Yachad. Crossing the finish line was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced! I had just run 13.1 miles, and yet, crossing that finish line, I was not tired, because I knew that I had done something amazing for Yachad! Of course, the tired and the sore set in after, but it was totally worth it, and I would not trade this experience for anything!
Shlomi Youssoupov Brooklyn, NY
Throughout life I have gone through many challenges. It’s often hard to keep moving forward when things are hard. This marathon taught me that in order to reach your goal, you sometimes need to push yourself to get there one step at a time. The marathon was an awesome experience. I didn’t train before, but I gathered all my strength to reach the finish line as fast as I could I made it in 2:38:27 when the marathon was over all my friends were cheering for me! That was the best feeling ever!
Tobey Linhart New York, NY
I hadn’t really trained. I had spent the past few months so engaged in schoolwork that marathon training simply didn’t fit into my schedule. But I knew I had to run because I was running for an organization that I so believed in. When I reached mile eleven, my feet felt like jello. Just then, a whole group of Team Yachad cheerleaders started singing and screaming for me, and more importantly for the cause that Team Yachad was running for: inclusion. The incredible spirit, excitement, and sense of achieving a greater goal helped me reach the finish line! I’m getting psyched to run for Team Yachad 2013… and this time, I’m training!
Allison Horowitz Glen Oaks, NY
Although the thought of running 13.1 miles was daunting at first, I decided to work hard, train, and do anything I could think of to help myself prepare for this upcoming challenge. One day a few weeks into my training I went out for a run, when I returned my mom asked how it went. Between my labored breaths I simply responded, “if I wasn’t doing this for Yachad I would say ‘I can’t do this’”. Over the years I have watched people who could easily say they “can’t” do something, justifying it due to their disability, overcome the odds and accomplish whatever it may be. So after this particular run when it was still a challenge for me to run a few blocks without being out of breath, I knew that the words “I can’t” had no right to pass my lips. The weeks went on and to be honest it didn’t get much easier, but my goal would be to cross the finish line no matter how long it took. On January 29th I accomplished the goal set forth, I crossed the finish line.I could not have possibly done it without the support system provided by running with Team Yachad as one team. The support and accomplishment that 135 runners achieved on January 29th 2012, is just a glimpse into not only, the accomplishments that occur within the Yachad family on a regular basis, but also the special way those accomplishments happen. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of an outstanding group of people to make up Team Yachad and the Yachad family as a whole.
Jamie Hasson Brooklyn, NY
My name is Jamie Hasson and I ran with Team Yachad at the 2012 ING Miami marathon. Participating in the marathon with Yachad was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. This was not my first marathon; I had run a couple before with other organizations. When I found out that Yachad was running I knew I had to give back to the organization that changed my life! When I heard that Team Yachad required me to raise $3000 I got a little nervous. I decided to take on the challenge because I know how important Yachad is. I definitely plan to be a part of Team Yachad 2013 and you should too!
Yaakov Kuinova Brooklyn, NY
My favorite moment of the marathon was crossing the finish line. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. There were more people cheering us on at the end, than at any other part of the track. The decorations at the finish line made everything more exciting. The marathon was not easy to run. I had to keep pushing myself to keep going until I reached the finishing line. It taught me that throughout life you need to sometimes push yourself and work hard to meet your goal. When you reach that goal it makes you feel good about yourself for accomplishing something so tough. Every step you take counts.
Vicki Ross Chicago, IL
I decided to sign up for the Team Yachad ING Half Marathon in Miami because I care about and support an organization that strives to include individuals with disabilities into the greater Jewish Community. On January 27, 2012 close to 200 people gathered together for a wonderful Shabbos preceding Race Day where 135 Yachad runners from various states participated in the Full and Half Marathon. An inspiring highlight on Shabbos was hearing from Richard Bernstein who is blind from birth. Richard shared his experiences of completing marathons, triathlons, and advocating for the disabled community. The next day, at the marathon, the crowd of an estimated 50,000 people watched Richard Bernsiten and Team Yachad’s mission come true when a wheelchair bound Team Yachad member crossed the finish line! That sight, no doubt, will remain with everyone for a very long time!
Shoshana Ginsburg Columbus, OH
On January 29th 2012 I ran the ING Half Marathon for Yachad. I was very excited to go to Miami and to experience an awesome weekend with Yachad. The one thing I was nervous about was that I did not know anyone else. Travelling a long way from Columbus, Ohio, I was the only one from my city to run for Yachad. I was very happily surprised by how warmly I was welcomed into the Yachad community. Everyone was eager to include me in activity even though they had never met me before! During the marathon, people from Yachad continued to encourage me and to help me finish the race. By running the marathon for Yachad, I was able to both make a difference and make new friends.
Josh Kaszovitz Cedarhurst, NY
This past summer I went on Yad B’ Yad, which is a Yachad summer program that allowed me to tour Israel with Yachad members. As soon as the program came to a close everyone started saying that they were going to run in the marathon. This got me excited and I was very anxious to sign up. However, I never actually believed that I would be able to raise $3,000 and run 13.1 miles. Finally, in the middle of December I signed up and started to train. I sent out an email to my family and to many family friends. Only one day after the I had sent out the email, I had already raised over $1,000. By the day of the marathon I had raised almost $4,000. The marathon was a great opportunity to raise money and give back to an organization I love. The entire weekend was such a great experience; I spent quality time with many friends from the summer and also met many new people. The race itself was simply, the greatest 2 hours and 6 minutes of my life. I ran with other people for a little, but mostly by myself. It was great to see other Team Yachad members and supporters in the crowd along the way to finish line. I was dead tired by mile 11, but seeing the Team Yachad supporters handing out water really helped reenergize me for the last 2 miles. When I crossed the finish line, I felt great knowing that I along with many other Team Yachad runners just helped raise a few hundred thousand dollars for Yachad.
Chloe Fein Lawrence, NY
Six months ago, I challenged myself to participate in an event that would test my body physically and my mind psychologically. The road ahead of me was going to be long, the training would be difficult, and the finish line seemed beyond the horizon. With great apprehension and excitement, I laced up my running shoes and began to train for the Miami half-marathon together with my dad, in support of my friends at Yachad. Little did I know the profound impact this undertaking would have on me…. By mile eleven, I began to really feel it. I was tired and my feet hurt, but I refused to quit. I knew the finish line was near, although it really seemed so far away. I thought about all the kids from Yachad that I have had the privilege of calling my friends. The pain was suddenly gone and with one mile to go and the finish line clearly visible in the distance, much to my father’s dismay, I was suddenly running faster than at any other point during the race. The crowds were larger, the noise level was deafening and the song “Welcome to the Jungle” was blaring from the loudspeakers. At exactly two hours and twenty-two minutes, my dad and I held our hands high and crossed the finish line together.