Nine years ago I went to Las Vegas to cheer my sister Zehava on as she ran her first half marathon for Chai Lifeline. It was a weekend that was so uplifting and inspiring that I signed up the following year to run the race alongside Zehava! I had never run more than a few miles so training for a half was daunting. Thankfully I had Zehava and many friends to help encourage and motivate me.
Part of running with Team Lifeline, included fundraising on behalf of this exceptional organization. With the generosity of family and friends, I had raised a considerable amount of money for Chai Lifeline but I honestly didn’t know what it was going towards specifically until I shared a Shabbos with the team before the race. During the joint meals on Shabbos and the adrenaline rushing, heart pumping pasta party the night before the race (must carbo-load!), a beautiful picture was painted of Chai Lifeline and the resources they provide. Hearing the testimonies from families who had received services from Chai Lifeline and seeing pictures from Camp Simcha really hit home. THIS is why we run! But I still had to do the race! I had been so focused on finishing the race with a decent time that I didn’t really enjoy the race at all. “Just get through it.” I finished the race, got my medal, went back to the hotel and just crashed. And I said “I’m never doing this again….well maybe…” A few months later I was back on the road. I had won a spot in the NYC half marathon. I wasn’t feeling my best and I finished in the last 100 out of 15,000. No joke! (I still have the same medal as the person who came in 1st). And I said “I’m never doing this again…well maybe…”
Fast forward to present day. I’ve done 10 races so far and training for my 11th, this time in Miami on February 9th. I’ve done the Miami half marathon twice already on my own- not participating with a charity team.
So why am I writing to you?? I have decided to go back to my roots and once again make my runs more meaningful than just finishing and getting a medal. In the 8 years since my first race, I’ve met more and more people who unfortunately have had to use Chai Lifeline services in different capacities. Whether it’s navigating insurance or finding the right doctor or sending a child to Camp Simcha or sending a child and their family on a trip to take a break from everything. This year it’s much more personal me than it was 8 years ago. For me, 8 years ago it was all about the challenge of running. And while the running part is still a challenge, this year it’s all about giving back to Chai Lifeline and all the good they do for communities and families around the world.
I’ve committed to raising at least $4000 and I’m getting close to my goal. Please consider donating to this amazing charity and help out Jewish families today!
And of course, follow me and my progress on Instagram @embee626