New York cyclists Ed Joyce and his wife Linda Gerstal, from the Upper West Side Manhattan and Gayle and Danny Cutler from Brooklyn are four of the cyclists that have just helped to break a record in the fundraising goals for ALYN hospital as they pedaled to make a difference covering hundreds of kilometers in Israel on the Wheels of Love Bike Ride. The Ride raised a total of $3.5 million dollars and received support this year not just from the local community, family and friends, but also with messages of support from celebrities Kathleen Turner, Cher, Madonna and Michael Buble.
“This was our fifth time” said Ed Joyce rides with a team known as the “the Grumpy Roadsters” that was first formed in 2014. Ed started with just two other riders, Jeremy Merrin and Elie Gordis also from New York. The team-of-three has grown and the Grumpy Roadsters numbered eighteen this year. “I keep coming back because I want to expand our team and raise even more money for the incredible kids, staff and doctors at ALYN Hospital”.
The Wheels of Love is an annual five- day ride that was split, this year, between three days of thrilling routes through the desert in the south of Israel and two days of challenging riding in the hills around Jerusalem. The six hundred cyclists and volunteers, all of whom commit to raising funds for the hospital, come from Israel and fifteen countries around the world with one hundred and seventy nine cyclists and volunteers flying in from the USA. Each one chooses between six different cycling routes that over the years have crossed the country from east to west, north to south both on and off road. The volunteers, such as Gayle Cutler help the cyclists cover the 375 mile plus ride. On the final day, riders from all routes converge and enter the hospital together, where they are given a hero’s welcome from the children of the hospital, staff, friends and families who have gathered to pay tribute to their efforts and generosity and award each rider with a medal.
“Cycling up the very difficult climbs on the last day to get to Jerusalem and the finish line at ALYN is an incredible experience with all the parents, their children and the staff waiting there to cheer for you, and the experience is ultimately capped off with the children of ALYN draping a medal around your neck — it’s hard not to get emotional.”
For Danny Cutler, his participation in the Wheels of Love incorporates his love of cycling, his love of Israel, and his love of helping people all into one major event , making him and his wife Gayle “fall in love with the ALYN cause”.
The Wheels of Love’s cause is close to home for Gayle and Danny. “Hashem has blessed Gayle and me with the privilege and merit of raising a developmentally delayed child, that has helped to transform our lives and has taught us many lessons” explains Danny. “Among the many lessons, we have learned that Hashem provides us all with “guardian angels” to help us through life. For a developmentally delayed child or physically disabled child, these “guardian angels” come in the form of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and more. For the Kids of Alyn and all who are treated there, the Alyn Hospital staff and volunteers are their “guardian angels. Another lesson we have learned is that life is not about our individual needs and desires, but instead, life is about how we can help others and try to change the world in some small way.”
The ALYN Hospital is Israel’s only pediatric rehabilitation hospital and a world leader in the field of diagnosis and rehabilitation of children in which multidisciplinary expertise has been developed in rehabilitative treatment of children and youth.
“ALYN Hospital is a place of modern day miracles where physically disabled babies, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, and young adults, as well as terrorist victims and survivors of other tragedies, have the opportunity to overcome the challenges of their disabilities and reach their potential” attests Danny.
ALYN treats children with the aim of rehabilitating and restoring their everyday life back into the community as quickly as possible. As a non-profit organization, it does not receive government support .The hospital only receives reimbursement from the referral agencies according to a uniform rate for the patient, which does not cover the true cost of the comprehensive treatment. The donations collected in the Wheels of Love campaign help bridge the gap between the hospital’s actual expenditure, the quality multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment it provides, and the reimbursement of the regular official payment received for each hospitalized child.
“Making sure every child gets the chance to overcome their physical challenges and reach their maximum developmental potential is what drives us here at ALYN” explains Dr Maurit Beeri, Director General of the ALYN Hospital. “ALYN’s Hospital high quality and infinite dedication to every child relies on the possibilities afforded to us by our annual Wheels of Love Ride. It helps us give the child that extra chance that might just make all the difference in the world. Without the Wheels of Love Ride ALYN could not be the special place it is, and could not enable the miracles we see every week.
Registration for joining the 20th Wheels of Love 2019 opens at the end of November.
Edited by: JV Staff