You may already know that I’m training to run the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas this November. Running a marathon is a personal challenge, but I’m not in this just for the glory. I’m running for something important. I am running to raise money for Chai Lifeline, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping very sick children and their families. However, I know I can’t do it alone. I need your help.
Chai Lifeline is a wonderful organization that provides year–round emotional, social, and financial support to more than 5,800 children and their families every year. Chai Lifeline´s programs and activities change their lives forever, returning joy and hope and enabling them to live full and happy lives despite the presence of illness. Its most famous program is Camp Simcha and its sister camp, Camp Simcha Special. Every year these two camps offer nearly 500 kids a chance to forget about illness and just be kids again.
Chai Lifeline’s devotion to help children and families suffering through different illnesses does not cease after the illness does. I, personally, will never forget the chessed they showed me and my family at a time when no one could possibly know what to say or do.
My High School journey began as it should for all 13 year old girls; fun and carefree. I enjoyed all the luxuries my age had to offer and looked forward to each day in my new school (community). It all seemed like a dream. On the second night of Pesach, my fantasy was interrupted. My youngest brother, Benny, was diagnosed with stage four, Neuroblastoma.
I remember sitting in the lobby of Children’s hospital as my father broke the news to me and my siblings. So much was going through my head, as I tried to control my tears from flowing in front of my little sister and brothers. My first instinct was to run. Anywhere but reality. I wanted to run, hide, and beg Hashem to give me this test instead of Benny. This was not to be. I wasn’t chosen for this literal test of a lifetime.
I had a hard time throughout the year and a half while he was pricked and prodded. Being that I am the oldest of my 5 siblings, I have somewhat of a feeling of responsibility inborn in me. I couldn’t imagine a world without my little brother. To my disadvantage, I couldn’t really find the right words or person to share my pain with. I chose to focus on helping others that were experiencing their own life challenges. This was where Chai Lifeline came into and changed my life.
I never felt comfortable being on the receiving end of chessed so instead of attending the Chai events as a patient’s sibling, I was always invited to come as staff. It made me feel I was on a mission, important, and most of all, I was helping others. It opened my eyes to chessed like I never saw before. I loved going to Sunday events, Concerts, and Art classes. I loved watching so many kids smile for the few hours when I knew that while they’re anywhere else their hearts are heavy.
My favorite part of Chai Lifeline has always been the West Coast team. Fortunately, I have gotten to know Mrs. Randy Grossman, Mrs. Alyssa Weisel, and Mrs. Harriet Brummer well. They have taught me how to greet people and make them feel like they are worth every breath you breath, just to see, speak to, and smile at them. The volunteers that were sent to my house became the big sisters, I never had. To this day, we maintain a close relationship; they along with their husbands and children have become apart of our family.
Not only did we become close to the amazing staff at Chai Lifeline West Coast, but we created eternal friendships with other Chai families. Each family was experiencing their own journey through the test of cancer. What brought us together was our time at Chai Lifeline; our time to share laughter, cries, tehillim names, stories, and encouragement.
So you see, Chai Lifeline doesn’t just offer activities, food, presents, and camps. They offer relationships and memories that you can’t put a price on. They offer a way to get through something that no one else can help you get through. I will forever have hakaras hatov to the many individuals throughout this amazing organization that helped me and my family through the most challenging of times and changed how I look at the world today.
Chasdei Hashem and with the help of all those around the world, my adorable brother Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah is alive and well, entering the 3rd grade. Although the illness has B”H moved on, the impact of Chai Lifeline remains forever.
To get a better idea of what Chai Lifeline does for families, please watch the videos below.
I know they will touch your heart the way they touched mine.
Training is not easy, but neither is dealing with illness. If the children of Chai Lifeline can fight each day, if they can push themselves to go through hospital stays and treatments, I can do this for them. But I can't do this without your support. I need your help to raise as much money as possible for these kids. So please, push the donate button and help me put smiles on the faces of sick children. Let's do this together! Let's make dreams come true.
Best - Yocheved