Athletes representing leading organizations dedicated to victims of terrorism and war, as well as children with disabilities, will be among the 25,000 runners participating in the 5th annual Jerusalem Marathon on Friday morning.
OneFamily, which rebuilds the lives of Israel’s thousands of victims of terror attacks, said that it has 161 runners taking part in the event on its behalf.
“The inspiring runners, many of whom have been injured or lost loved ones in attacks and war, will be joined by supporters of Israel around the world who are running to unite against terror,” the group said in a statement.
Aharon Karov, a former commander of 30 soldiers during 2008’s Operation Cast Lead, who was critically wounded in the conflict, will be among the runners representing the organization.
“Aharon is taking on the challenge after recovering from the blast which left him close to death with eight pieces of shrapnel in his head, all his teeth knocked out, his nose dislodged, his left eye dismembered, and his stomach and upper left side of his body crushed,” the statement said.
Another runner representing OneFamily is Chanan Haim, 27, of Jerusalem, whose father, Yehuda, 47, was killed on his 16th birthday in 2004 by a Palestinian suicide bomber on an Egged Bus. Haim and his younger brother subsequently joined OneFamily’s youth division, which he said was instrumental in both of their recoveries.
“It helped me reach emotional places you never dream of, especially as a 16 year old,” he said. “There was a sense of unity with everyone there.”
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Meanwhile, Sarah Baila Gordon, 19, of Pittsburgh, is running her first 10k to honor her brother, an IDF soldier killed while serving in Operation Protective Edge.
“I am running in memory of my brother David, a victim of terror, who was a true hero,” said Baila.
“He was a warrior who fought for what he believed in, for the country that he loved. I am proud of my brother, proud of the work this organization does, and proud to be a part of Team OneFamily.”
Other athletes include Oren Hubara, who is running in memory of his sister, Odelia, 26, who was one of five people killed 10 years ago by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv, and Yehuda Lebovitch, whose brother Elazar, an IDF soldier, was killed during a 2002 shooting attack south of Hebron.
OneFamily founder Marc Belzberg, who will also run in the marathon, said the organization has raised over $43 million since 2001 for thousands of families in need of financial, psychological, medical and legal aid, as well as to fund camps for children from bereaved families.
“Though the marathon helps bring in much-needed funds, it is equally powerful as a source of inspiration for those suffering from terror, as they are joined by people of all backgrounds and countries in a show of unity against it,” said Belzberg.
“Together we can change the future of so many young and old people whose lives have been totally shattered by terror,” he added.
Moreover, 1,000 runners representing Shalva, an association for mentally and physically challenged children in Israel, raised $800,000 for its programs, the organization said.
“With 1,000 runners running as part of Team Shalva, including over 300 athletes from different countries, we are the largest single group running in the marathon,” Shalva said in a statement. “Runners traveled from the USA, Canada, South Africa and the UK to join Israeli runners participating in a weekend-long event.” Additionally, Shalva said its runners will gather after the race to celebrate Shabbat and hear the inspirational story of Keren Leibovitch, Israel’s champion paralympic swimmer.
“One of Karen’s messages is that only though being able to fail and then pick yourself up and continue – pushing yourself to your limits – can one reach one’s ultimate potential, a message that echoes the philosophy of Shalva, which continually strives to ensure that each child reaches his or her maximum potential,” the statement said.
Now in its 25th year, in 2005 Shalva created the marathon’s Community Run to enable special-needs children’s to participate in the event.
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