After a week of wet and gloomy winter weather, the skies cleared over Israel’s capital, and ADI, Israel’s network of specialized rehabilitative care for those touched by and living with disability, brought the sunshine to the 12th-annual Jerusalem Marathon. With hundreds of runners of all levels of ability, the “ADI Fleet” inclusive running team was everywhere all at once, promoting the advancement of the most vulnerable members of Israeli society and highlighting the importance of disability inclusion, equity and access.
Sporting luminescent-green running shirts and even brighter smiles, ADI staff members, volunteers and supporters tore up the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon tracks, while more than three dozen ADI Jerusalem residents—young women and men who were never expected to walk—pounded the pavement on the 800-meter communities track, pushing their limits in specially-made walkers to show that disability doesn’t mean inability.
“Without question, the Jerusalem Marathon is one of the high points of our year. Our ADI residents always receive such a warm welcome from city officials, event organizers and the thousands of participants; this acceptance moves their families to tears while also moving our society forward by leaps and bounds,” said Shlomit Grayevsky, director of ADI Jerusalem.
“It’s a very special experience to see people gather in Jerusalem from across the country and around world, and incredibly heartening when they stop to cheer us on. I am so proud of our ADI family—this beautiful sea of green—for leading the charge for true inclusion. It’s clear to me that our hard work is paying off, and that we are making a difference and promoting real change,” she said.
The “ADI Fleet” running team’s “sea of green” was comprised of more than 300 staff members, volunteers, ADI residents and special-education students, and their families. Also on the team were gap-year students, including those participating in programs such as Torah Tech, Mechinat Ruach HaNegev, Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, Midreshet HaRovah, Midreshet Rachel v’Chaya, Amudim, Aish Gesher for Women, Midreshet Torah v’Avodah (MTVA) and the Jean Schottenstein Oryah Institute. Having developed a deep connection with the ADI family throughout the year, these fleet-footed ambassadors jumped at the chance to run with and for them in the Jerusalem Marathon.
By race day, these young leaders raised more than $37,000 to empower ADI residents and special-education students by providing them with the tools, treatments and therapies needed for greater mobility.
“When I visited ADI with my school earlier this year, I was blown away. We sang and danced with the residents and special education students, and it was an atmosphere that I absolutely loved. It was so calm and loving, and I couldn’t believe how many different types of therapies were provided. I knew that I had to learn more about ADI and get involved,” said Talia Namvar, a Los Angeles native spending her gap year at MTVA.
She added that “when I heard that I could actually run with ADI, I was so excited! It was so meaningful running with ADI, and I was thrilled to be able to support this amazing organization and contribute to what they are doing in some small way. I could not have asked for a better running team for my first Jerusalem Marathon.”
ADI provides its residents and special education students with the individualized growth plans and specialized services they need to grow and thrive; its rehabilitation patients with the treatments and therapies they need to heal and return to their lives; and the community at large with tangible opportunities for encountering disability, raising awareness and promoting acceptance.