bicycle sign 88.
(photo credit: )
Some 660 riders from Israel and 12 foreign countries hope to raise $3 million for Jerusalem's Alyn Hospital for children in the Wheels of Love biking expedition starting Sunday.
The four-day event will be the eighth international biking fund-raiser for Alyn, the country's national center for the rehabilitation of physically disabled children and adolescents.
Each rider commits himself (or herself) to raising at least $2,000 in sponsorships. The proceeds will be used to rehabilitate babies, children and adolescent who are victims of road accidents, terrorism, congenital defects, cancer or burns.
Most of the bikers will start off at 7 a.m. on Sunday from the archeological park near Tiberias's Golden Tulip Hotel and end their route some 400 km. later at Alyn in the capital on Thursday. While some will participate in only one day of riding (from Ramle to Jerusalem), others will cover 250 km. or 500 km., depending on their physical abilities.
The youngest person registered is 15 years old, while the oldest is 77.
One of the American participants is a doctor who survived New York's World Trade Center terrorist attack; after he recovered, he vowed to devote his life to improving Israeli society. And a US couple decided to spend their honeymoon on bikes to benefit Alyn.
The foreign participants come from the US, Canada, Britain, France, Sweden, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Belgium and Mexico. Wheels of Love, which began in 2000 with nine riders, is the largest and longest international biking charity event in Israel. Last year, 475 riders raised $2.5m., and this year participants hope to exceed that sum significantly. Every rider carries a photo of a child who is being treated at Alyn - a decoration of the Traveler's Prayer.
Among the major sponsors are Champion Motors (importer of Skoda cars); NDS, The Marker, Ynet, Shahal, the Azrieli Group, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israel Chemicals, Galtronic, Terem, El Al and Amisragas.