After a week of wet and gloomy winter weather, the skies cleared over Israel’s capital and ADI (adi-israel.org), Israel’s network of specialized rehabilitative care for those touched by and living with disability, brought the sunshine to the 12th annual Jerusalem Marathon. With hundreds of runners of all levels of ability, the “ADI Fleet” inclusive running team was everywhere all at once, promoting the advancement of the most vulnerable members of Israeli society and highlighting the importance of disability inclusion, equity and access.
Sporting luminescent green running shirts and even brighter smiles, ADI staff members, volunteers and supporters tore up the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon tracks, while more than three dozen ADI Jerusalem residents — young women and men who were never expected to walk — pounded the pavement at the 800-meter “Communities Track,” pushing their limits in specially-made walkers to show that disability doesn’t mean inability.
“It’s a very special experience to see people gather in Jerusalem from across the country and around the world, and it is incredibly heartening when they stop to cheer us on. I am so proud of our ADI family — this beautiful sea of green — for leading the charge for true inclusion. It’s clear to me that our hard work is paying off, that we are making a difference and promoting real change.”
ADI Fleet’s “sea of green” was composed of more than 300 staff members, volunteers, ADI residents and special education students and their families. The “sea” also included young women and men on gap year programs, including students from Torah Tech, Mechinat Ruach HaNegev, Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, Midreshet HaRovah, Midreshet Rachel v’Chaya, Amudim, Aish Gesher for Women, Midreshet Torah v’Avodah (MTVA) and the Jean Schottenstein Oryah Institute. Having developed a deep connection with the ADI family throughout the year, these fleet-footed ambassadors jumped at the chance to run with and for them in the Jerusalem Marathon.
By race day, these passionate young leaders raised over $37,000 to empower the ADI residents and special education students by providing them with the tools, treatments and therapies they need to take strides towards greater mobility.
“When I visited ADI with my school earlier this year, I was blown away. We sang and danced with the residents and special education students, and it was an atmosphere that I absolutely loved. It was so calm and loving, and I couldn’t believe how many different types of therapies were provided. I knew that I had to learn more about ADI and get involved,” said Talia Namvar, a Los Angeles native spending her gap year at MTVA.
“When I heard that I could actually run with ADI, I was so excited! It was so meaningful running with ADI, and I was thrilled to be able to support this amazing organization and contribute to what they are doing in some small way. I could not have asked for a better running team for my first Jerusalem Marathon!”
ADI provides its residents and special education students with the individualized growth plans and specialized services they need to grow and thrive, its rehabilitation patients with the treatments and therapies they need to heal and return to their lives, and the community at large with tangible opportunities for encountering disability, raising awareness and promoting acceptance.