Mitzvah Marathoners: Bat Mitzvah Girls Run for Team Lifeline in Las Vegas

On Sunday, November 17, more than 140 men and women laced up their sneakers and ran with Team Lifeline in the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon/ Half Marathon/ 10K. Amongst them were Laila Cohen of Valley Stream, New York, Nina Plaut of Woodmere, New York, and Shira Waldman of Hollywood, Florida. They all decided to run for Chai Lifeline in honor of their Bat Mitzvahs, spending months training and fundraising to make a difference.

Team Lifeline is an endurance training program that brings groups of people to destination races across the country, including New York City and Miami, to raise funds and awareness for Chai Lifeline. Team members are treated to an inspirational weekend, including airfare and Shabbat accommodations at the beautiful Palazzo hotel, building camaraderie and a community of support. Leading up to the marathon, participants receive personalized training schedules, online coaching and other helpful resources for all running levels.

“Whether you are an athlete or have never run a mile in your life, Team Lifeline offers an unparalleled experience for an important cause,” said Moshe Turk, director of Team Lifeline. “Our runners run with purpose and show Chai Lifeline’s thousands of families living with pediatric illness that they are not alone.”

Laila Cohen (center) with her family. Laila’s father Jeff ran with her while the rest came to cheer them on.

“Laila trained really hard and finished the 10K strong. She raised more than $6,000 in memory of her grandfather and to give back to Chai Lifeline for being there for her family,” says Sarah, Laila’s mother. “We are so proud of Laila’s dedication and commitment towards the children of Chai Lifeline.”

Shira Waldman, right, running with her mother Stacey.

“I decided to raise money for Chai Lifeline for my Bat Mitzvah. I trained for the running and it was hard, but it was all so worth it!” says Shira, “Running with Team Lifeline was the best experience!” Shira was joined by her mother, Stacey, and the mother-daughter pair ran together. “Everyone told us that Team Lifeline was amazing. We didn’t know how magical they truly are until we experienced it ourselves,” says Stacey. “The whole experience was inspiring.”

Team Lifeline benefits Chai Lifeline’s more than two dozen year-round programs and services, including professional case management; counseling; meal delivery to hospitals and homes; transportation to medical appointments; the summer experience of a lifetime for children with cancer and chronic illnesses at Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special; Project Chai crisis intervention, trauma and bereavement workshops for families, schools and communities; insurance advocacy; family retreats and respite; i-Shine afterschool national programs for children living with illness or loss in their homes; and more.

Nina Plaut, left, with father Dan.

To register with any of Team Lifeline’s upcoming marathons or to learn more, please visit

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