More than 1,000 marathon runners joined Team Shalva for the 2019 Jerusalem March 15.
Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, broke a record having the largest group of runners in the 2019 “Winner” Marathon. More than 1,600 participants (of the more than 40,000 in the marathon) from Israel and abroad represented Shalva in various marathon tracks.
Of the 1,600 participants, 650 runners came from all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico and Australia. Members of Team Shalva ran in order to raise money to support Shalva’s programs for children with disabilities and their families and participated in the all the various tracks of the marathon, including the full marathon.
“The children feel themselves to be an inseparable part of the Jerusalem marathon, and from our point of view, it makes a significant statement for inclusion and acceptance,” Avi Samuels, chairman of Shalva, said in a statement.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Team Shalva in the marathon and also the community run, which was initiated in the first year of the marathon by Shalva in cooperation with the Jerusalem municipality. Shalva is the largest and longest-running social organization in the marathon. More than 1,000 participants joined for the community run which is a 800 meter-track designed for families and people with disabilities.
The organization raised $1.5 million dollars from the event, which will go to finance future therapy sessions and programs.
“Participating in this marathon is a really unique, life-changing experience, and we are honored to have had so many people join us for this wonderful event and demonstrate their support for a more inclusive society,” Samuels added.
The Shalva Band, who was seen on “HaKokhav HaBa,” an Israeli interactive reality TV singing competition, led the Shalva contingency in the community run. The band is made up of eight musicians, young men and women, among them people with disabilities, who perform on stage together
Shai Ben Shushan, the creator and director of the group, was a soldier in an elite army unit, who was severely wounded in action. As a result of his own rehabilitative process, he decided to help others, using the potential of music to connect people with special needs to the population at large.
Team Shalva also had 300 runners from the Israeli Air Force, Jerusalem police and fire department and Magen David Adom marathoning with them this year as well as schoolchildren, home designer and Instablock creator Moshik Galamin and fitness coach Anat Harel.
“The marvelous energy of the community run was no doubt due to the Shalva children, which drew in the crowd with their love of life,” Samuels said. “My heartfelt thanks go out to all the people who got up early and came to hug us, among them members of the air force, police, fire department and the amazing emergency medical personnel…a special thanks to Mr. Moshe Lion, mayor of Jerusalem, who enabled us to continue this wonderful marathon tradition for its tenth year.”