Hundreds to take part in annual all-women’s ride to benefit Chai Lifeline
On July 16, more than 200 women will clip in and ride 100 miles as part of Tour de Simcha. The annual, all-female cycling event benefits Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network which provides emotional, social, and financial support to children with serious illness and their families.
Participants will embark from Woodbridge, NJ, and ride along miles of scenic, rolling hills until they reach The World’s Greatest Finish Line, the entrance gate to Camp Simcha Special, Chai Lifeline’s overnight camp for children with chronic illnesses and medical challenges, located in Glen Spey, NY. As they enter camp, the cyclists will be greeted by campers, many of whom need wheelchairs, respirators, or other medical equipment to survive, as well as hundreds of family and staff members, who will celebrate along with them.
“The women of Tour de Simcha are an inspiration to all of us. With every mile they ride, they help Chai Lifeline continue to fulfill its mission, providing critical support to thousands of children facing life-threatening and lifelong illness and their families” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s Chief Executive Officer.
For the first time, Tour de Simcha riders will have the ability to take part in a century ride (100 miles), along with other route options based on varying levels of difficulty. While the cyclists enjoy the physical challenge, they all participate for different reasons.
For Julie Kristof of Montreal, Tour de Simcha is an opportunity to give back. “Last summer was my first year of riding in Tour de Simcha,” said Kristof, who will be participating along with 16 other Montreal-area women. “It was my daughter Miriam’s second time in Camp Simcha Special and I decided to surprise her. Miriam has Familial Dysautonomia, a hereditary condition she was diagnosed when she was about 18 months old. Her two weeks at Camp Simcha Special are her favorite part of the year.”
Deborah Katz, of Lawrence, NY, joined Tour de Simcha at the encouragement of a friend. “The funny thing was that I didn’t even own a bike,” said Katz. “However, because my husband and I have been volunteering for Camp Simcha for the past 15 summers and because we have close connections with the kids in camp, I was more than eager to take up the challenge. I thought that I was going to be giving to Chai Lifeline and Camp Simcha, little did I know how incredible this experience was going to be for me and my family.”
Tova Gerson, an early childhood educator from Bergenfield, NJ, has participated in Tour de Simcha since 2015. “That year I dedicated my ride for Evan Levy, a young boy in my nursery school class who was diagnosed with cancer,” said Gerson. “Unfortunately, he passed away the following year at only four and a half years of age. This year, my group Team Evan will be riding in Evan’s memory, just two days before what would have been his eighth birthday. I remember how Evan was full of laughter and smiles, way beyond his years, and it’s fitting that we are riding into Camp Simcha in his memory.”
To register for Tour de Simcha or to learn more, please visit www.tourdesimcha.org.