TIKVOT TIGERS, whose members were wounded in war or by terrorists, hit the road last Thursday..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In February 1996, soldier Yael was among 31 people seriously wounded by a terrorist who also killed two at the Ashkelon Central Bus Station, near her army base.
Twenty years later, she’s returning to the city on Friday, this time as a participant in a triathlon.
Yael is one of an 11-member group called the Tikvot Tigers, all of whom are recovering victims of terrorism and wounded soldiers. They include Achiya Klein, who was blinded in the Gaza tunnels in 2013, Moshe Ziberski, who was wounded on duty and has a paralyzed leg, and Michael Katzanelson, who lost a leg during the First Lebanon War. They were brought together by TIKVOT , a nonprofit organization that aids in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers and victims of terrorism through sports.
Founded in 2007, the volunteer-based program has helped thousands of severely wounded Israelis to overcome their pain, trauma and disability and rebuild productive lives.
Simone Farbstein, director of TIKVOT , says, “Every day, we witness the unique power of sports activities to rekindle hope in shattered lives and restore dignity and self-confidence.”
TIKVOT caters to people all over Israel by providing them with the means to practice their chosen sport.
“We start in the hospital and help them decide. Every person chooses a sport they connect to,” Farbstein explains. TIKVOT provides the means and funding for the client to participate in his sport, from basketball to swimming, and even surfing. They can practice on their own or in a group in their community. TIKVOT has about 70 volunteers working in the hospitals, practicing sports with the clients, and helping coordinate events. “Once you get to know the soldiers, you get addicted and you can’t leave them,” Farbstein says.
Friday marks the closing of a circle for Yael as she returns to Ashkelon to complete the triathlon with her teammates.
Farbstein remarks, “They realized in spite of their disability, they can still participate in triathlons. It’s amazing because you see this group of people doing what healthy people are doing... Each person has their own disability but together they are very strong.”