By Steve Zerobnick, associate director, Keshet

The excitement was electric as 700 cyclists climbed the steep ascent from Ein Kerem to Jerusalem last week. We were part of the annual “Wheels of Love” bike ride, the largest fundraising sporting event in Israel, whose purpose is to raise much-needed funds for Alyn Hospital, one of the world’s leading rehabilitative facilities for youth.

Alyn riders

The ride is proof-positive of the power of the individual. In September of 2000, eight riders and I made our way from Jerusalem to Eilat. We were due to take part in a ride to support a hospital in England which held an annual ride in Israel. Because of the outbreak of the intifada, however, the British hospital cancelled their ride, leaving us Israeli riders stranded. We were given two choices: Ride with the British hospital’s rescheduled ride in Spain, or cancel our participation. Fortunately, we thought of a third option – riding for Alyn Hospital.

As one of the would-be riders I offered to use my experience in running Israel tours for over 15 years to organize our own ride. The other riders accepted my proposal and the rest is history. That year our small group raised over $65,000 for the hospital and founded a committee which started the second “annual ride”. Since that modest beginning the ride has raised over $20 million, benefiting children who are the victims of terror attacks, car or other accidents, congenital defects and more.

This year two young men, one age 14 ½ and one age 17, both former patients at Alyn, rode with us as their way of giving back to the hospital. Keshet CEO Yitzhak Sokoloff and I were proud to be a part of this.