October 29, 2014 3:58 pm
For families confronting a serious medical challenge, holiday time can be filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. “At Chai4ever we are determined to ensure that the yomim tovim remain a happy, enjoyable, spirited and stress-free time,” said Samuel Zaks, Chai4ever’s Executive Vice President.
In the US, Chai4ever children and their parents from several East Coast cities (along with one visiting family from Israel) enjoyed an amazing day of rides, games, activities, and, of course, candy at Hershey Park. They shared support and comradery at a group lunch in the private Chai4ever Sukkah. As a special surprise, each child was presented with a toy store gift card. Parents who have had little to smile about as they fight desperate battles against cancer and other life threatening illnesses were grinning from ear to ear, enjoying the squeals of delight and the comforting environment.
In Israel, Chai4ever created a dream destination where children and their parents were transported to a joyous holiday fair with activities that included go-karts, inflatable slides, a petting zoo with horse rides, baking, bubbles, crafting with clay, pizza, refreshments, and entertainment including music and a story time interactive show. Of course, each child received a personalized special gift on the bus ride home.
“Our incredible volunteers worked hard to accommodate each family according to their needs and to make sure each child had a great time,” said Samuel Zaks. “If the parents were able to come along, we wanted this to be a special family time. Parents whose medical challenges precluded them from joining were grateful that their children would still have cheerful, fun memories of this yom tov. One father told me this was the best vacation his children ever had!”
Deena, a mother of 5, recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, said, “Thank you Chai4ever for making our chol hamoed so special. You have brought much simcha into our lives.”
Since its formation, Chai4ever has become the premier address for families undergoing the crisis of a parent with such catastrophic illnesses as cancer, heart and lung disease and strokes. With the goal of mitigating the long-term damage to the family, Chai4ever’s comprehensive year-round services include housekeeping assistance, homework help, transportation, crisis and bereavement counseling, school collaboration, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, meal delivery, insurance advocacy and navigation, family retreats and recreational events.