(May 26, 2022, Washington, D.C, JNS Wire) DC-resident Saul Shamash has committed to cycling 62 miles on June 12 to raise money for pediatric patients at ALYN Hospital, and he is hoping to inspire others who share his passions for helping people with disabilities and for cycling to join him.
American Friends of ALYN Hospital (AFAH) is holding its third U.S.-based Wheels of Love charity bike ride fundraiser in the U.S. This year, it will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 12, and offers two scenic routes: a 35- and a 62-mile option along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Each rider has a fundraising goal, and every dollar raised will go directly to ALYN Hospital, Israel’s only pediatric rehabilitation center and global innovation leader, to provide children with disabilities with the greatest possible amount of independence and mobility through access to innovative treatments, new therapists and doctors, and new equipment.
Though this is only the third Wheels of Love event in the U.S., supporters of ALYN have been attending the ride for over two decades in Israel, where six route options snake through the Israeli countryside each year, ending at the doors of the ALYN rehabilitation center, where the riders are greeted by ALYN’s incredible children.
“Wheels of Love facilitates a unique comradery—there are longtime riders who participated in ALYN’s first ride in 2000, families who turn the event into a multi-generational affair, and new riders every year who join to see what Wheels of Love is all about,” said Maayan Aviv, AFAH Executive Director. “Attendees frequently joke that the ride is akin to an adult summer camp, where you see all the familiar faces from previous years and fold in new ones who are sure to return.”
Saul Shamash personally felt this warm sense of community during his first ALYN ride in 2018 in Israel. “The people that do the ALYN ride make you feel comfortable, included, and cared for,” he stated. “But more importantly, after visiting ALYN in person, I witnessed how compassionately the hospital cares for the children in need there, and how much this care means to the patients and their families. These families are forever fighting for their loved ones and hoping that things will get better. Visiting the hospital made me want to be a part of that solution for them, and that’s why I hope that the local community will ‘DCide to ride for good’ with me right here in DC next month.”
Saul had been involved with organizations that support people with disabilities long before ALYN. He ran summer programs at Yachad, an Orthodox Union organization dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. He was involved with them for ten years and ran one of their summer programs to Israel in 2015. Unfortunately, with his full-time job as an engineer, it became unsustainable for him to keep up his involvement—another reason why he is so thrilled to be able to support ALYN through Wheels of Love. He noted, “ALYN is now my enduring way to stay connected to this type of work and this population of people.”
Since his first ride, Saul has become a huge supporter of the global work ALYN does. “The population that is served by ALYN are often the people that are overlooked or given up on by most people and institutions,” he said. He also loves that while ALYN serves the children in the rehab center itself, they have a broader mission of serving children with disabilities all around the world through innovative research and comprehensive care.
For Saul, the energy and positivity of Wheels of Love is infectious. “You don’t need to know about ALYN to have a great time on the ride,” explained Saul. After all, he joined his first ride without much background of ALYN. “But keep an open mind and heart. You will realize that you are riding for a better reason than yourself—which will make the ride and the experience even better.”
To learn more about Wheels of Love and to register online, click here.
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1-3: Courtesy of AFAH Library and Bobby Lynn
4-7: Courtesy of Saul Shamash