Dear Dr. Yael:
I have an amazing experience to relate. Because of dangerous weather conditions, the original flight of 110 passengers – which I was a part of – to the Team HASC Fundraising Marathon in Fort Lauderdale was cancelled. After another cancelled flight, JetBlue Airways accommodated us with a special 12:30 p.m. Friday charter flight. We arrived at our hotel an hour before Shabbos.
JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
After spending a wonderful Shabbos together, we went to the marathon on Sunday at 4 a.m. There are several tents of sponsors at the finish line – and lo and behold, one of those sponsors was JetBlue! When we thanked the JetBlue representatives for their hospitality in making our participation possible, they were indeed pleased by our expression of gratitude.
Marathon onlookers were curious about the Orthodox group wearing Team HASC T-shirts was. There was a secular band right across from the JetBlue tent that, hearing we were a Jewish group, started to play “Havah Nagillah.” HASC counselors and campers danced in a circle. With the JetBlue staff joining in, the kiddush Hashem continued. And the band also played the HASC theme song, “Camp HASC, Our Summer Home.” This added to the overall excitement.
The person responsible for making all of this possible was Eli Rowe, the frum president & CEO of LionCage Shredding and a liaison with JetBlue. He used his connections at JetBlue to help us during this challenging situation. We were literally stuck and thought we would miss our marathon. The marathon raises money for Camp HASC, and even more important, it is something the children and staff look forward to. Eli Rowe and JetBlue left no stone unturned in their efforts to help us get to Fort Lauderdale.
Dr. Yael, it is difficult to express in mere words how remarkable our entire weekend was. In typical Camp HASC style, the Shabbos was one of true simcha and the joy was electric. The children and adults were caught up in the continuous singing on the plane to the singing and dancing at the marathon site.
Thank you for letting me share our experience with your readers – an experience I will never forget. Hatzlachah!
Thank you for sharing your extraordinary story with us.
Obviously there was a great amount of siyata d’Shmaya that permitted the marathon runners and staff to succeed in getting to Fort Lauderdale to participate in this incredible event. It is well known that HASC is a special organization. It must have been in the camp’s zechus, as well as the zechus of its exceptional staff and campers, that you all made it out of New York on that Friday. As we all clearly remember, the weather was terrible and, as you mentioned, there was no realistic chance of getting on a flight to Fort Lauderdale before Shabbos. But Hashem’s intervention, through remarkable shluchim, made the unattainable attainable.
May HASC’s campers and staff continue to give klal Yisrael much nachas for as long as is necessary. Tizku l’mitzvos and hatzlachah!