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Wheels of Love Charity Ride

An enthusiastic Team Great Neck joined more than 600 cyclists from around the world in Israel in support of the Alyn Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center. They braved rain, lots of it, thunder, lightning and even hailstones to raise money for the center that treats infants, children and adolescents who are afflicted with a broad range of physical disabilities, including children who have been injured in road accidents and terror attacks, children suffering from congenital conditions and those who have physical limitations due to various illnesses. Children from all over Israel and the world are treated at Alyn Hospital.

This year’s biking team included Steve Mermelstein, Drs. Laura and Scott Danoff, Aviva Finkelstein, Charlie Goldberg, Steve Santodonato, and Jeff Blye. Debbie Goldberg and Joanne Blye joined the team by volunteering to help the riders through the ride with directions, food and good cheer.

The first day’s ride was dramatic with whipping rain conditions that left everyone soggy, even with the proper rain gear. Lightning, thunder and hailstones added to the drama of peddling through a driving rain, trying to see and stay balanced.

Laura Danoff says, “While riding in the rain and strong winds was challenging, this was nothing compared to the children of Lyn, who struggle every day to accomplish things we take for granted.”

With weather conditions even worse for the second day, the ride was cancelled out of concern for the safety of the participants and our intrepid Team Great Neck went shopping and to a local vineyard.

Scott Danoff writes, “With thunder and lightning gone, Day 3 began with just rain. We donned our rain gear and had shower caps covering our helmets as we rode out of the complex. It was a most spectacular view with a heavy cloud cover above, with bright sunshine ahead down in the Hula Valley. This day took us along both the Lebanese and Syrian borders where we saw security fences, bunkers and tanks all around us. We traveled through the craters of extinct volcanoes, including Mount Avital crater, and rode partly up Mount Hermon. At our break, we were met with high winds and dropping temperatures. The entire afternoon was a traverse across the Golan Heights with brutally high winds hitting us obliquely as we headed towards Hispin.”

The next day was gorgeous weather and an easy ride. The final day started from Modi’in and was the most difficult terrain to bike as it was almost all uphill. It ended in Jerusalem at the Alyn Hospital.

Dr. Danoff concludes, “As we pulled in past the cheering crowd, we saw our daughter Stephanie (who is studying at a seminary,Tiferet) standing high above the crowd holding up a “Team Great Neck” sign. At the hospital, we were greeted warmly by the children. No matter how hard you prepare for this moment, you always break down in tears of emotion. The children are clapping and singing and reaching out to thank us from their wheelchairs or standing on crutches … To all of you who have supported this effort, know that your donations have gone directly to the hospital to support amazing care for these incredible children.”

(Donations can still be made online at Click on “wheels of love,” then “sponsor a team” and write “Team Great Neck” in the search window and follow the instructions.)