With their largest group of riders to date, Chai Lifeline’s Tour de Simcha fundraising bike ride took place on the country roads of upstate New York on July 19th. The annual all-women’s ride raises funds for Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health organization providing social, emotional, and financial assistance to children with life-threatening and lifelong illnesses and their families.
Beyond just the fun, friendly sporting event, the ride has become known for its inspirational “World’s Greatest Finish Line” at Camp Simcha, Chai Lifeline’s medically supervised summer program for children with serious illness. Campers and staff gathered at the finish line to celebrate with the riders, making the event and the work getting to this point even more meaningful. Among the riders are former Camp Simcha campers and staff, survivors of cancer and other illness as well as relatives and friends who lost loves one to disease but continue to ride in appreciation for what the camp does on behalf of this community.
Camp Simcha camper, 17-year-old Rosie Grossbaum, born with cystic fibrosis, joined the ride for the first time. Rosie, from Morristown NJ, rode with her mother Rochie, to give back to the organization that has had such an impact on their family.
“Rosie has been a camper at Camp Simcha since she was nine years old and it has played a huge role in helping her to be the incredible human she is today,” said Rochie. “Having witnessed Tour De Simcha as a camper, seeing Rosie experience this as a rider was so powerful.”
“It was surprising how once I started training, I saw the strength that I had,” said Rosie. “I didn’t think I could do it, but I first started with five miles and the next think you know, boom, I had way more stamina. We might not all be the strongest or the best. We have things that are very crushing, but just giving it your all and your fight to succeed is what matters. The fact that you get up every morning with all the things you go through makes you a warrior.”
“Tour de Simcha is so much more than a fundraising event,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, CEO of Chai Lifeline. “It gives riders of all levels the opportunity to participate in a truly meaningful and exciting experience, while also making a real difference in the lives of children and families impacted by illness and loss.”
Leading a team of 14 riders in memory of her sister-in-law Dorina, Dina Kalaty of Great Neck, NY was joined by her daughter and niece as they ride the scenic course. “Dorina was one of the most beautiful people inside and out,” said Kalaty. “She inspired and awakened people to their life’s purpose and so everything I do now has more meaning because of her, including this ride.”
Each summer, Camp Simcha, located in Glen Spey, NY, serves hundreds of medically fragile campers from across the world. Described as “a hospital camouflaged as a camp,” Simcha provides children and teens with an optimal escape from their everyday challenges in a warm, safe, and nurturing environment.
To learn more about Tour de Simcha, visit www.tourdesimcha.org.