Over 40,000 runners participated Friday morning in the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon, which this year had six different tracks. Shalva led the pack with the largest contingent, totaling 650 marathon runners from all over the world and an additional 1,000 who joined Team Shalva in the Community Run.
Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, broke a record Friday morning as the largest group of runners in the 2019 "Winner" Marathon. Over 1,600 participants from Israel and abroad represented Shalva in the various marathon tracks.
650 runners came from all over the world, including the US, Canada, the UK, Mexico and Australia. Members of Team Shalva ran in order to raise money to support Shalva's programs for children with disabilities and their families and participated in the all the various tracks of the marathon, including the full marathon.
Joining them were some 1000 participants in the community run of 800 meters designed for families and people with disabilities. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Team Shalva in the marathon and also the community run, which was initiated in the first year of the marathon by Shalva in cooperation with the Jerusalem municipality. Shalva is the largest and longest-running social organization in the marathon.
Leading the Shalva contingency in the community run were the members of the Shalva Band, who captivated an entire country as part of the Cochav Haba program. The Shalva Band is made up of eight musicians, young men and women from all parts of society, among them people with disabilities, who perform on stage together. The group includes singers, a keyboard player, guitarist, a drummer and percussionists, and was created and is directed by Shai Ben Shushan, a soldier in an elite army unit, who was severely wounded in action. As a result of his own rehabilitative process, Shai decided to help others, using the potential of music to connect people with special needs to the population at large.
Also running with Team Shalva this year were over 300 runners from the air force, police, fire department and Magen David Adom, as well as schoolchildren, the stylist Moshik Galamin and the athlete Anat Harel.
Shalva Chairman Avi Samuels said, "The marvelous energy of the community run was no doubt due to the Shalva children, which drew in the crowd with their love of life. The children feel themselves to be an inseparable part of the Jerusalem marathon, and from our point of view, it makes a significant statement for inclusion and acceptance."
"My heartfelt thanks go out to all the people who got up early and came to hug us, among them members of the air force, police, fire department and the amazing emergency medical personnel, as well as the terrific schoolchildren who all joined the Shalva family. A special thanks to Mr. Moshe Lion, Mayor of Jerusalem, who enabled us to continue this wonderful marathon tradition for its tenth year."