August 29, 2008: Challenges

In my not so humble opinion, there is nothing more thrilling than riding a bicycle along a rocky trail in the land of Israel. From the forest and mountains around Jerusalem to the stark grandeur of the desert, the land is full of amazing sites that come alive when you use your own power to experience them. In the three years since I moved to Israel, I have ridden thousands of kilometers, yet I have just scratched the surface of the beauty that this land possesses.

Yet as moving as riding in Israel is, once a year to ride a bicycle takes on another dimension. About ten years ago, some genius thought that he could use a bike ride to raise desperately needed money for a children’s hospital in Jerusalem. Apparently, many people agreed with him and the Alyn Hospital “Wheels of Love” ride began.

For the last two years, I have joined about 500 other riders for this week-long ride throughout Israel. One year, we rode from Jerusalem to Eilat traversing the Judean and Negev deserts. Last year, we started in Tiveria and finished at the Alyn hospital in Jerusalem. Riding into the cheering crowd of children being treated by Alyn and their families brought all of us to tears. This is really a lot more than a bike ride.

It is a terrible fact of life that sometimes children get seriously hurt or sick. Next time you feel like complaining about some mild malady, look at a picture of a ten year old suffering from cerebral palsy who wonders if he will have an eleventh birthday. How about the pretty seven year old who had a brain hemorrhage in the middle of the night. She wants to know if she will ever be well enough to go to school with her friends. Can we even look at the three year old whose legs were amputated after he was hit by a car and remember our own complaints?

Yes, a visit to Alyn can be very disturbing.

Yet it can also be one of the most uplifting moments you will experience. Because in this hospital, the boy with cerebral palsy is smiling because the therapy he receives is working. The girl who suffered the brain hemorrhage is learning how to eat by herself with a fork and knife. The three year old now has two tiny prosthetic legs and is riding around the halls of Alyn on a special scooter.

I have found the Alyn ride to be an intensely physical challenge. Yet I know that it is really not that bad. After all, it is a challenge that I eagerly embrace every year. No one wants to get sick or be hit by a car.

There are few things that I am as proud of doing in my life as having raised about $10,000 for the Alyn children over the past two years. This year, I am leading a team of riders from Neve Daniel. Together we need to raise $8,000. Please help me ride again this year by giving a donation to Alyn. All you need to do is go to the website

You will receive an e-mail from Alyn thanking you and one from me too. But the best thanks you will have is knowing that you really did help a child who has nowhere else to turn.

Come on, ride with me. You won’t regret it.

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