A group of 35 Israeli children with special needs or illnesses - organized by the NGO Fulfilling Dreams - arrived in Moscow on Sunday ready to take in some of the most buzzed-about games of the tournament, June 21, 2018..
(photo credit: FULFILLING DREAMS)
As hundreds of thousands of soccer fans are flocking to Russia to attend games at the World Cup, a special group of Israelis is also taking in the sites and sounds at the exciting international competition.
A group of 35 Israeli children with special needs or illnesses - organized by the NGO Fulfilling Dreams - arrived in Moscow on Sunday ready to take in some of the most buzzed-about games of the tournament.
"Thank you so much to all who supported us, donated and made possible the journey of 'Fulfilling Dreams' to the 2018 World Cup," the group wrote on Facebook before flying to Moscow.
The NGO - founded and run by UK native Gilad Salter - has one donor in particular to thank: Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
Fulfilling Dreams told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that Abramovich, who recently received Israeli citizenship, gave the group NIS 320,000 towards the costs. The NGO said overall it spent NIS 750,000 on the trip, the rest of which was made up from other donors and crowd-funding efforts.
This isn't Abramovich's first time donating to Fulfilling Dreams. In 2016, the billionaire helped send 55 children associated with the NGO to the Euro Championship in France.
A spokesman for the Russian-Israeli businessman told CNN on Tuesday that "Mr. Abramovich is supporting 'Fulfilling Dreams' for the third major tournament, following the Brazil World Cup and France Euros, and we continue to be impressed by the selfless work Gilad and his team are doing."
The group of 66 people - which includes 31 staff members and health aides - has already seen several exciting games, including Mexico v. Germany, Poland v. Senegal and Portugal v. Morocco.
Many of the children supported by the organization could not take part in the trip for health and other reasons. Some of those were instead slated to attend the Israel-Argentina match in Jerusalem that was canceled earlier this month, according to the NGO.