The goal: to send as many ill children as possible to Camp Simcha, a fun summer camp suited to their medical needs, in upstate Glen Spay.
The 4th Annual Bike4Chai fundraiser began as a simple idea 16 years ago when a Camp Simcha counselor rode his bicycle to the camp.
Today, volunteer bike riders make a similar trip, biking 113 miles in one day, and meeting up with family members and other riders for dinner and an overnight rest. Then early the next day the riders are back on the road, peddling out the last 65 miles of the journey.
The fundraiser is linked with the non-profit organization Chai Lifetime, an organization that offers services and support to children battling cancer and their families. Last year’s event raised more than $1.8 million, and organizers are more excited than ever for this year.
“The first year we started Bike4Chai, we had 50 riders and made $2,000,” said Alan Shamah, co-founder of Bike4Chai. “Now we have 300 riders and made $2.5 million this year.”
The fundraiser is quite personal to Shamah, as members of his own extended family have suffered through the disease.
“Bike4Chai is a savior for families and children diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “It does a tremendous job supporting the difficulties for these families. To see the kids and their emotions, and what we accomplished for them, is truly rewarding. When families break down in tears and emotion, you know how important it is to them.”