Presidential backing and stretch limos for children suffering from cancer, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
By GREER FAY CASHMANPublished: JULY 26, 2007 20:59Advertisement
Caroline Tabiv, a young girl who uses a wheelchair, found reason to smile when she met President Shimon Peres on Thursday.
She told him that she and all the other children who came with her, including many who suffer from cancer, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, wished that he would bring peace. Their big wish for themselves was to grow up healthy and no longer be disabled.
Visibly moved, Peres told the youngsters: "Your fate is in your willpower. What will help you to overcome is not just medication but your inner strength."
He told them he realized how difficult things were at times and urged them to persevere. "You're great kids. I hope that we will have peace and I also hope that you will grow up healthy," he said.
The 37 youngsters, aged from about five to 15, arrived at Beit Hanassi at noon in a fleet of Foreign Ministry stretch limousines accompanied by a police escort. Most of them live in Jerusalem, but some came from the center and south of the country.
Their "fun day" was organized by the Kav Lehaim (Life Line) NGO, which cares for some 1,800 youngsters nationwide.
Moshe Mizrahi, the deputy director-general of Beit Hanassi, showed the visitors into the reception hall.
Most walked independently, though not always without limping. Others used walkers, crutches or wheelchairs.
Mizrahi had a tough job trying to get them to tone down the noise. One of his assistants distributed souvenir pens and pins and he told the youngsters something of the history of Beit Hanassi, which has been a national institution for about 40 years.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Peres came in and the youngsters took up a lusty chant of "Ohavim otcha Shimon (We love you Shimon)."
Peres, a great-grandfather, beamed happily, shaking hands and embracing some of the children.
The youngsters started the day with a visit to the capital's Biblical Zoo, from where Foreign Ministry drivers took them to Beit Hanassi, then on to the Foreign Ministry for lunch and a movie and then on to the Western Wall.
According to one of Kav Lehaim's regular volunteers, the youngsters took it all in stride. "They love these fun days," he said, "and we love the opportunity to help them enjoy themselves."
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