Among the thousands of runners in the New York Marathon, there are countless stories of courage and motivation that bring them to the starting line. But for 24-year-old Yitzi Teichman, the path to this moment has been nothing short of miraculous and motivated his run with the Chai Lifeline team, the organization that he says helped him get through his personal ordeal.read full story
The 2017 Annual Gala celebrating the work of Chai Lifeline internationally was an evening of laughter and tears, amazement and awe.
Master Mentalist Lior Suchard astounded us with his abilities. At one point, two members of our audience multiplied several numbers important only to them. When they revealed the number on their cellphone, he revealed the number on a huge scroll. when the scroll was turned upside down, the numbers spelled out “Chai Lifeline.”
We were brought to tears by the hauntingly beautiful “We Are Strong: The Faces of Hope,” written by Malky Storch, Bracha Goldstein and Miriam Storch. They sang the song to their beloved sister, Hudis, as she lay dying. It was sung publicly for the first time by 8th Day at the Gala. read full story
When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with cancer and Chai Lifeline changed my life! They were always there for me when I needed someone. Camp Simcha changed my life and I made so many friends there. I still speak to them from this day! When I grow up, I want to be an American Sign Language teacher to help kids who are deaf. Thank you Chai Lifeline!
It’s always enchanting to watch the buses pull in to Camp Simcha. Four times a summer, children alight into the waiting arms of counselors, go through a purple arch and emerge into a world where illness recedes and fun awaits. read full story
Does Chai Lifeline bring out the natural empathy in people, or are people who are touched by the organization more likely to nurture their empathetic abilities when choosing careers?
A new generation of girls fighting cancer marched over the Brooklyn Bridge in a celebration of life, joy, and hope.
Faye R. was in a constant state of exhaustion. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to care for a child with a chronic illness. When her daughter Rachel was well enough to go to school, the after-school hours brought an endless round of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Medications and special food requirements took hours to fulfill. Illness meant trips to the doctor or even hospitalization. Rachel’s three siblings needed attention and care, too.
“After a while, I didn’t even have words to describe it anymore,” she lamented. read full story
Eight months ago, Becky B. was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks bone and surrounding tissue. Since then, the 13-year-old’s life has centered around hospitals and painful treatment. The one bright spot has been the support of Chai Lifeline, whose volunteers and professionals have “adopted” the family, filling their lives with light during a very dark period.
This summer, Becky is going to Camp Simcha, Chai Lifeline’s overnight camp adventure for children with cancer and other life-threatening or chronic illnesses and disabilities. She can’t wait, and neither can her family. read full story
Getting Your Kids Into the Game
Most of us recognize Title IX as the shorthand for Federal regulations requiring schools to provide equal access to sports to women. But do you know that similar regulations mandate that children in schools that receive federal funding have equal opportunities to participate in all activities, including sports and extracurricular programs?
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In theory, this means that schoolchildren can’t be left out because of physical or cognitive disabilities. In reality, inclusion takes understanding and work on the parts of families, schools, community sports leagues and sports facilities.
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Many times, children who are ill or who have disabilities end up on the sidelines simply because no one knows how to include them or because they fear that inclusion will be expensive, intrusive, or uncomfortable for healthy children. Sometimes, talking to coaches, teachers, and other parents can help ease the way for a disabled athlete. Be prepared to stand your ground, though. PGA pro Casey Martin, who suffers from a degenerative nerve disease, went all the way to the Supreme Court to assert his right to use a golf cart in tournaments.
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Remember that some sports activities are easier to integrate. Disabled athletes can use prosthetics during swim meets or hand cycles during bicycling events without impacting other children. Team sports require more cooperation, but isn’t what we’re trying to teach children when they play together? If you encounter resistance (and even Casey Martin’s pro-colleagues groused when he needed a golf cart), ask dissenters to remember that sports are supposed to be fun for children. It isn’t – and shouldn’t be – all about winning. Offer to speak to classes and teams about inclusion. Many times, the kids get it before their parents. They feel good about helping someone else feel like part of the group.
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If your child needs more assistance than your school or town can give, there are organizations that specialize in everything from adaptive skiing to therapeutic riding to running marathons. Disabled Sports USA is a good place to start. The New York City Sports Commission lists NY State resources, including adaptive playgrounds; other states may have similar guides.
Physical activity promotes cardiovascular and physical strength and increases range of motion and physical activities. These are as important for sick children as healthy ones. Most important, mastery of a sport or activity (at any level) helps children feel good about themselves. The self-confidence and esteem will transfer to other areas of their lives. So encourage all children — healthy, ill, or disabled — to have fun!
When the September Dilemma Continues Into October
For children who are ill, returning to school in September can be a mixture of relief and dread. Relief, because children thrive on the order, routines, and social life of school. Dread, because school can be an ambivalent experience for students who need some sort of accommodation in school.
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While schools must meet the needs of ill and disabled students by law, administrators and teachers range from amazingly helpful to eye-poppingly intransigent when asked to deviate from their norm. Parents are often counseled to “wait and see,” but what can you do when September turns into October and your child hasn’t settled comfortably into school?
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Thankfully, it doesn’t happen all the time. But it occurs often enough for us to have gleaned some advice from Chai Lifeline’s professionals and parents of children who are out of school for cancer treatments or who need extra assistance because of chronic illness or disabilities.
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