(JNS.org) Charismatic New York Billionaire and philanthropist Stewart “Stewie Rah Rah” Rahr on Jan. 28 donated 50 life-saving ambucycle vehicles worth a total of $1.3 million to Israel’s United Hatzalah emergency services group. A ceremony in Rahr’s honor was held atop the Aish HaTorah World Center building in Jerusalem’s Old City, overlooking the Western Wall Plaza and the Temple Mount.
Rahr, 67, had originally donated a fleet of 12 ambucycles, which were on display at the event. (Ambucycles are outfitted with a specialized storage box that contains a complete trauma kit, oxygen canister, blood sugar monitor, and defibrillator.) But after Rahr shared his “rags to riches” life story—how after selling his billion-dollar pharmaceutical business, Kinray, several years ago he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to philanthropy and “helping the little guy”—inspired attendees began making pledges towards additional ambucycles on the spot.
Feeding off of their enthusiasm, Rahr committed to match every donation to United Hatzalah— Israel’s first and largest fully volunteer emergency rapid response service—dollar for dollar, thus quadrupling his initial pledge. His generosity comes amid the backdrop of a new campaign to double United Hatzalah’s ambucycle fleet from 300 to 600 vehicles, in order to drastically cut down emergency response times across Israel.
Rahr told JNS.org that he only recently learned about the work of United Hatzalah, but was “so impressed with their enthusiasm that after just 30 seconds I was hooked.” He added that “saving lives brings [me] instant gratification.”