Mitzad Haprutot, the Israeli equivalent of America's March of Dimes, was launched on Sunday at Beit Hanassi, with many of the beneficiaries of the nation's generosity in attendance.
Funds raised from this appeal are directed towards Ilan, Israel's Foundation for the Handicapped, which provides programs and services for thousands of physically impaired adults and children at 41 branches across the country.
Ilan enables the disabled to participate to in many activities enjoyed by mainstream society. Wheelchair dancing, community singing and theatrical productions with wheelchair-bound actors and actresses are but a few examples.
In his address to the Ilan executive and people who are part of the Ilan family and who had come to Jerusalem from all over the country, President Shimon Peres expressed the hope that the volunteers who are raising these funds would knock on every door in Israel and receive a positive response.
He also hoped that anyone and everyone with special needs and suffering from any kind of physical disability would be given the opportunity to integrate in Israeli society.
Peres praised Ilan's work, and described it as an organization whose mission stirs the soul, "because nothing commands our compassion more than the pain of an injured child."
Children were born to be healthy, leaping around, mischievous, agile and free of limitations, he said. They were meant to be happy, playing children's games and sports and having a world unto themselves.
The sight of a mentally or physically challenged child creates a feeling of injustice, he said. This is not what a child deserves, but if it must happen, he continued, such children and their families are fortunate that an organization such as Ilan exists.
Peres underscored that the state is indebted to Ilan for the wonderful summer camps that it operates, that enrich the lives of thousands of youngsters.