ILAN foundation holds annual March of Dimes
Event raises funds for those with neuromuscular disabilities.
Last year's ILAN March of Dimes event Photo: Courtesy ILAN
ILAN – The Israeli Foundation for Handicapped Children, which aims to advance the
integration of Israelis with neuromuscular disabilities into society, held its
annual “March of Dimes” events on Wednesday.
The fund-raising event,
which the organization started back in 1958, is based on that of the American
March of Dimes Foundation, which was founded in 1938 to combat polio, and which
now works to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant
The ILAN initiative consists of a full day, each year, during
which schoolchildren from around the country go door to door in their
neighborhood to collect donations.
This year, more than 10,000 children
participated in the event including some 3,600 kids in the Haifa area; some
3,000 in the Beersheba area; about 2,500 in Tel Aviv; 1,200 in Hadera; 580 in
Modi’in Reut; and about 480 in Kiryat Ono.
“This is not just about the
kids getting money for the cause, there is an educational purpose behind it,”
ILAN board chairman CPA Ehud Rassabi told The Jerusalem Post on
“When you have kids going and doing something for people with
disabilities, and if the school also gets involved and explains it to them, it
helps, they feel involved,” he said.
A large part of ILAN’s activity is
directed toward changing the way society views the handicapped in Israel,
“When we, healthy people, see a person who looks a bit
distorted, we say they are retarded and we don’t like looking at that, it
disturbs us, we don’t want to see it,” he said.
“But the reason why I do
this and I became involved was that understanding that beyond the outside
appearance, there is a perfectly well functioning head and brain,” Rassabi said.
“A lot of people with handicaps go on and become successful professionals, and
doctors, and lawyers. It’s that thing we call prejudice that we want to erase of
Over the years, Rassabi has seen the amount of donations
grow, despite recessions and difficult economic situations.
absolutely incredible to see that the Israeli public really cares and donates.
They open their hands and just give, it always amazes me to see that,” he
ILAN was established in 1952 under the name ILANSHIL, a Hebrew
acronym denoting “Israeli Organization on Behalf of Polio Victims.”
1953, a vaccine for polio (poliomyelitis), an infectious viral disease that
affects the central nervous system and can cause temporary or permanent
paralysis, was developed in the United States, and the Israel Health Ministry
entered into negotiations to buy the vaccine.
The United States agreed to
supply the vaccine only to a national organization for the assistance of polio
victims in Israel, and since ILANSHIL did not succeed in gaining national
status, the Polio Committee was founded in 1956 to receive the
The Polio Committee subsequently merged with ILANSHIL, giving
birth to ILAN.
Today, ILAN helps people with cerebral palsy “make use of
the full potential that they have in them,” Rassabi explained.
it’s helping them advance in the education system, sports, drawing, we want them
to develop their skills, so they can later become an integral part of society,”
During previous March of Dimes initiatives, the organization
raised some NIS 1.8 million, and it hopes to exceed that this year.