In July 2019, I rode into Camp Simcha after a 75 mile ride and was greeted with cheers, confetti, and loud music. Camp Simcha counselors and campers were lined up to meet us, dancing (even in wheelchairs) and singing. Most of my fellow riders found the excitement contagious, and despite their exhaustion, joined in with the cheering, dancing, and singing.
I stood in the middle of it all, taking in my surroundings yet feeling strangely out of it. I was watching a blind Camp Simcha camper dancing with her counselor while her walking stick was dangling from her wrist. I was watching another Camp Simcha camper dancing with AFO leg supports and forearm crutches. And watching the camper in wheelchairs and walkers, all equally excited to hand out medals and cheer for incoming riders. Yet there I was standing, fighting back tears.
To many riders, the Tour de Simcha is an amazing charity opportunity. You raise money for Chai Lifeline so they can continue their great work, and then participate in a high energy event that is the highlight of the Camp Simcha summer. But to many of us, the Tour de Simcha is much more personal. You see, the reason I was standing back emotionally instead of dancing, was because everywhere I looked, I was thinking of my little girl, Juliette/Yehudis.
Juliette was born blind and extremely hypotonic. She experienced moments of apnea and seizure activity for the first 6 months of her life. And while healthy and stable otherwise, she carries a lifelong risk of progressive kidney disease. Juliette has been a Chai Lifeline kid since very soon after her birth. Chai Lifeline has helped us with doctor referrals, scheduling appointments, getting us to procedures, kosher meals and visitors in the hospital, all part of the support system Chai Lifeline has in place for its families. I did my first Tour de Simcha ride while pregnant with Juliette, and my TDS family has been another type of support system as well.
So when I rode into Camp Simcha, all around me I saw Juliette's possible future. Camp Simcha Special is for children with chronic, but not immediately life-threatening, diseases. It's the sister camp to Camp Simcha, which is for children with life threatening non-infectious diseases.
Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special provide an opportunity for kids with extensive medical needs to experience overnight camp. Every year these two camps offer 430 children a chance to forget about illness and just be kids again. To learn more about Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha special, visit campsimcha.org.
I will be biking to camp on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020.
My objective is to raise $3,600 by then, and I hope you will help me reach this goal. All donations are 100% tax-deductible. Please contribute by clicking on the donate button now.
Thank you for supporting me and, in doing so, helping children and their families cope with the diagnosis, treatment, and aftermath of serious/chronic pediatric illness.
PS For more info about the bike ride please visit tourdesimcha.com