Gilad Shalit at the Shalva Israel Gala Dinner
Gilad Shalit at the Shalva Israel Gala Dinner Shalva

The Shalva Israel Gala Dinner, which took place at the Avenue Events and Convention Center in Airport City yesterday evening, brought together over 1,000 guests in support of the organization's rehabilitative programs for children with disabilities.

The evening's program was titled "Miracles Happen Every Day", reflecting the life-changing opportunities that Shalva provides to the children in its care. Among those present was the owner and Group Executive of the James Richardson Corporation, Andrew Danos, who received an award for his social leadership.

Also in attendance were Gilad Shalit and his girlfriend Nitzan. Shalit is a former MIA soldier of the Israel Defense Forces who was held captive by Hamas from 2006 to 2011. He was captured by Hamas terrorists in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels and released by Israel five years later in a famous prisoner exchange. Given a second chance at life, Shalit dedicates his time helping others and volunteering with the Shalva children.

Shalva was founded in 1990 by Kalman and Malki Samuels to help children and families coping with disabilities, as a result of their personal family story. Their son, Yossi was injured during infancy by a tainted vaccine and became blind and deaf among other disabilities. When he was eight-years-old, Yossi experienced a communication breakthrough and the Samuels parents fulfilled their promise to help other families in similar situations by establishing Shalva. The organization immediately filled a void in rehabilitative opportunities for children with disabilities and today provides direct-care services to 2,000 children with disabilities and their families in the largest center for disability care and inclusion in Israel.

"It is especially meaningful to see the relationship between the business world and the Shalva organization," said Avi Samuels, Chairman of Shalva. "This connection is what enables Shalva to provide support for thousands of children with disabilities and their families."

Over the course of the evening, Shalva raised over two million shekels in support of the organization's rehabilitative program for children ages 6-21 called "Horizon". Among those in attendance were David Weissman, Haim Taib, Udi Savion, Avi Fisher, Yaron Kestenbaum, Hadassah Fattal, Avi Dotan and many other leading personalities in Israel's business scene. The evening featured master of ceremonies Ron Shahar and the culinary excellence of celebrity chef Yisrael Aharoni. The evening's entertainment included performances by the Shalva Band as well as Danny Sanderson and Gidi Gov performing songs of Kaveret, Gazoz and more.

A moving keynote speech was delivered by David HaYisraeli, father of national hero Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisraeli who was critically wounded in the IDF Operation Protective Edge and currently receives rehabilitative therapies at Shalva.

"Shalva is place that not only cares for people with disabilities, but also provides them and their families with the dignity and embrace that they so desperately need," said HaYisraeli. "Thanks to the therapies at Shalva, today Yehuda is able to stand on his feet and even move using a walker."

The Shalva gala dinner was also attended by Shalva volunteer Shai Gross, the youngest Entebbe raid survivor, and national war hero Surin Hershko.

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