Jerusalem was filled with the sound of thousands of pairs of feet pounding the pavement on Friday, including those of Mayor Moshe Leon, as the tenth Jerusalem marathon got under way.
The annual marathon scheduled in March 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year the event took place Oct. 29 under strict Green Pass guidelines. It included a full-run marathon (42.2 km), half marathon (21.1 km), 10 km race, 5 km race, a family race (1.7 km) and a community race (800 meters). Many were running for cherished causes.
Among those at the head of the pack was 55-year-old Aryeh Holtz, a father of three and mechanical engineer from Jerusalem, who ran the 10K while pushing his daughter, Leah, an ADI Jerusalem special education student, in a running stroller that he made from scratch.
The staff, volunteers and supporters of ADI (adi-israel.org), Israel’s most comprehensive provider of residential and rehabilitative care for individuals with severe disabilities, also came out in droves to celebrate the abilities of its residents and highlight the importance of disability inclusion, equity and access.
“I have been running the 10K at the Jerusalem Marathon for years, and I’ve always wanted to run it with Leah, but I didn’t have the right stroller, and I wasn’t sure if she would enjoy it. But after building an all-terrain stroller with the correct support, I started training with her, and it was clear that Leah loved it as much as I did,” explained Holtz, a native of Washington Heights, New York. “While it might seem counterintuitive, running is an activity that we can do together, and it brings us closer.”
“It was thrilling to be back at the Jerusalem Marathon after all this time and so moving to see that the same pandemic that kept us all apart is now bringing us back together,” said Shlomit Grayevsky, Director of ADI Jerusalem. “Our ADI residents have always felt welcome at this wonderful event, but it’s clear that the last two years have made people more caring and compassionate than ever before.”
Thirty fully vaccinated ADI Jerusalem residents took park in the 800-meter ‘Communities Track,’ pushing their limits in specially made walkers.
Members of ‘ADI Fleet,’ the organization’s inclusive running team, tore up the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon tracks. On the team were ADI staff and volunteers, young men and women on gap year programs, and parents and siblings of ADI residents and special education students.
But at the head of the pack was Aryeh Holtz.
“The ADI staff and volunteers have been very helpful, and we’re so happy to have great partners in Leah’s development, so it just seemed natural to tackle the 10K track as members of ADI Fleet,” he said. “Leah’s twin sister, Miri, also ran with us, so it was a fun and meaningful family affair.”
In the end, Holtz completed the challenging 10K track in 1:02:38. “Leah beat me by a second,” joked the proud father.
ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran) empowers hundreds of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens – children, adolescents and adults with severe disabilities – to advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives. ADI also provides the highest-level rehabilitative care for all and is laying the groundwork for the establishment of fully inclusive communities across the country.