Wednesday 5 August 2015

Chai Lifeline: Montreal riders bring home $300,000 for kids with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses

Camp Simcha, an overnight summer camp in Glen Spey, New York, is designed to meet the medical and social needs of children and teens with cancer and other serious illnesses. Via its annual two-day Bike4Chai fundraiser  participants travel 180 miles through mountain ranges and scenic roads to the actual camp in Glen Spey, N.Y. and obtain pledges. Following the sixth edition last week, some $5 million has been raised for this flagship program of Chai Lifeline, a national organization that services families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Stu Guttman, the executive director of Donald Berman Chai Lifeline in Montreal, reports that 10 local cyclists aged 25 to 55, raised more than $300,000. They are: Avi Ickkovits, Warren Roll, Shuly Vorhand, Morty Stern, Michael Fischer, Allan Rosen, Eli Bernholtz, Andrew Friedman, Leon Steinberg, Arie Reingott. Ickovits, Roll, Stern and Reingott actually made their way from Montreal to the starting point in Connecticut by bike.

 Avi  Iczkovits (second from left) with George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde,
two participants who have competed in  the Tour de France.
This is the largest most profitable per-rider charity cycling event in the country, if not the world. About 430 children attend the four two-week summer sessions at Camp Simcha each year, offered at no cost to the families. It’s a medically supervised environment and has the ability to be a supportive hospital, but a kid can experience it like a camp.”

The idea for the ride was conceived by Chai Lifeline volunteer Dovid Egert, who raised $10,000 in sponsorships for biking 135 miles from his Lakewood, NJ home to Camp Simcha in 2009. His ride enabled seriously ill children to attend Camp Simcha that summer. The next year, the lone rider was joined by 39 others, kicking off the Bike4Chai annual event.

Every year, experienced and novice bicyclists from around the world pedal their way through three states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York — to raise funds for the camp.  

Roll was the newest addition to the Montreal team. In the span of two months he was able to not only raise over $100,000 himself, but train to participate.  Readers might remember Warren and more specifically, his daughter Jayden, from her battle with cancer and the search for a stem cell donor.  “Thankfully, Jayden is doing well and is in remission,” says Guttman. “Warren undertook this race as a way to give back to our organization.” Iczkovits raised $111,000 and the others between $2,800 and $12,000.

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