A Great Day For a Walk And Friendship!

Families gather to support children with special needs

It was, everyone agreed, an absolutely great day to be outside. It was even better, they said, because they were outside and walking for friendship and to show their support for children and teens with special needs at the annual FCwalk.

“We have friends who volunteer with [Friendship Circle] frequently and they encouraged us to come out,” said Kavya Nivarthy, 16. “Getting to meet the people and the kids and families, who deal with this on a daily basis is really an eye-opening way to spend your weekend.”

Added her classmate Kennedy Smith, 16, attending the FCwalk is a different way to help others and do community service. Plus, “it was great to be outdoors.”

Before the walk kick-off time, some people decorated team signs—there were more than 130 fundraising teams this year—while others enjoyed pony rides and a petting zoo. Then it was time for the walk, and the crowds moved down to the bottom of the LifeTown parking lot eager to get started.

“It’s amazing to see everybody,” said FC director of operation Levi Grossbaum. “Your participation enables us to always say yes, which is a hallmark of Friendship Circle. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!”

Also addressing the pre-walk crowd was Sam Twersky, 12, who created the “Sam’s Mitzvah Madness” team for his bar mitzvah. Sam’s team raised more than $10,000 for Friendship Circle. Noting that people ask him why he’s so supportive of Friendship Circle, Sam said, that he could tell you it’s because of all the amazing people there or how much fun he has.

“The real answer,” Sam continued, “is that I feel great when I’m here. I get to see the best of everyone, and I am exposed to a lot of chesed [kindness.]”

With that, members of Eitan and the Tractors fundraising team—led by the Shua family–stepped forward and cut the ribbon with the help of Friendship Circle’s CEO Zalman Grossbaum.

Then it was off! Kids, teens, parents, volunteers and a large contingent of furry friends, AKA dogs on leashes, walked the route as they laughed, cheered and waved.

“It was really nice, you got to see everyone’s emotions,” said 11-year-old Mia Ashenberg. “Some people were so excited they started running.”

Added her friend Yael Hornung, “I liked seeing all the people being so happy.”

After the walk, everyone headed inside of LifeTown to experience all the wonderful activities for the remainder of the afternoon. Families sat at tables in the multipurpose room or settled down on the hallway floor enjoying a makeshift picnic while they snacked on hot dogs, knishes and popcorn.

Others watched a basketball hoops show in the gym as kids jumped and climbed in the indoor playground.

Then there was the opportunity to wander around the LifeTown Shoppes. Sitting outside of the nail salon there was Victoria Franklin, who was visiting LifeTown for the first time, accompanying the Rudzik family for the afternoon.

“I love it. I was very impressed,” said Franklin. “It’s huge and it’s beautiful. It seems to have a lot of program for the kids.”

For the Rudzik family, Chris and Melissa Rudzik and their children Eliana and Ruby, LifeTown has already provided plenty of hours of fun. Their daughter Eliana, 7, attended camp there this past summer. Still, they can’t get over how much the building has to offer. Said dad Chris Rudzik, “It’s an amazing place for the kids to go to.” 

Another first-time visitor was Janet Rubin. As a college counselor, Rubin has had many students write college essays about what Friendship Circle and LifeTown mean to them, but she had never experienced it for herself, until the walk.

“I think it’s amazing what’s been done here,” said Rubin. “I am just over-the-moon impressed. It seems like there is nothing that’s not here. I think this is just the beginning.”

The FCwalk may be over but it’s not too late to get involved. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, upcoming activities or more, visit LifeTown.com.

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