On a cold, rainy morning in late October, a group of people of various ages, places, and points in their lives gather together in Central Park to train for an upcoming marathon. It is Sunday morning, the weather is miserable, and most people would rather be in bed. Yet this particular group is not deterred by the rain or anything else, for they have a goal and are determined to reach that goal – no matter what it takes.
These runners are just a small part of a group of incredible people who together comprise Team Yachad – a group put together by Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities – who will be running in this year’s ING Marathon and Half Marathon in Miami Beach, Florida on January 29. Yachad is an organization dedicated to addressing the needs of people with disabilities, and including them in the Jewish community. The goal of Team Yachad is to raise much-needed funds for this very worthwhile organization, with each team member committing to raise money in order to be on the team.
Included in the race package is a trip to Miami, accommodations, and a Shabbaton with the entire team at Newport Beach Resort and Spa. The team members will also receive customized training regimens from Team Yachad’s coach, Jasmine “Jaz” Graham, an RRCA certified training coach, who works with the runners both as a group and individually to prepare for the marathon. This is Yachad’s third consecutive year running in the ING Miami Marathon, and at 135 runners from all over the country it promises to be their biggest and best race to date.
Eliana Shields of Baltimore participated in last year’s marathon. She had heard about the marathon from a friend who was also running, and as someone who was very involved with Yachad of Baltimore, she felt privileged to be part of something amazing. “Yachad has given me more than I have given to them,” she says. “I am so grateful to them for all the fantastic work that they do, and feel privileged to have been a part of such an incredible experience.” Eliana has also kept up her running. It is a big part of her life now, and she is currently running a 5K in Baltimore. Yachad has affected her life in more ways than one.
Aaron Winston, a Yachad member from Dallas, Texas, also ran in last year’s marathon. “Running with Yachad strengthened my belief in humanity and in God,” he tells me. “Seeing all the people running together for a single cause showed me an incredible togetherness that cannot be found anywhere else. Yachad is a great organization, and the marathon is the pinnacle of what Yachad stands for.”
Also involved with the marathon, although she does not actually run in the race, is Nicole Bodner, program director for Yachad NY. She does, however, run the show. For the past two years, Nicole has been coordinating and overseeing parts of the event. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she says. “Being a part of this marathon is so inspiring, and it’s amazing to be on the other side and facilitate such an unbelievable event that so many people are a part of. The environment in the room is simply indescribable and it’s amazing to see so many people feel so passionately about a cause that I myself am so passionate about. There is nothing like it.”
You too can be a part of Yachad. Whether it’s sponsoring a particular runner or making a general donation to Yachad, every contribution is appreciated. Visit www.teamyachad.com for more information and to view a full list of runners. Yachad – together – we can make a difference!
Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shaindy will be running with Team Yachad this year in the ING Miami Marathon. To sponsor Shaindy and donate to a great cause, visit her page, www.teamyachad.com/shaindy. All proceeds, no matter the sum, go to benefit Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities.