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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Maccabeats performed for a record crowd. (Credit: Friendship Circle)

(Credit: Friendship Circle)

2015 was a record year in terms of participation in the Friendship Circle Walk. (Credit: Friendship Circle)

Eliana Rosenberg celebrated her 8th birthday with a few thousand friends, as she spent her big day at this year’s Friendship Circle walk. She enjoyed cupcakes, a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” and even a shout-out from the FCwalk event’s emcee.

“It’s fun,” said Eliana. “I’m walking with my friends to raise money for Friendship Circle.”

Wearing pink headbands, “Eliana’s Birthday Team” of 12 third-graders came to the walk to celebrate with Eliana, while raising money for a worthy cause. In lieu of presents, the girls all made donations to Friendship Circle.

“Her birthday focused on giving instead of getting,” said her mother, Jodi Rosenberg.

This year’s Friendship Circle walk, held on October 25 at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, was particularly heartwarming because of the size of the crowd—2,200 people attended, according to FC Executive Director Zalman Grossbaum, making it the largest FCwalk ever—who came to show their support of children with special needs.

In addition to celebrating birthdays, people came to celebrate family. To celebrate community. To celebrate each other. To make it clear that everyone cares and that everyone deserves a friend.

With banners that read “Team Perseverance,” “Jarmel Family,” “Simon Says: Walk!” and more than 150 other team names, people walked, smiled, laughed and played. Then came the dancing, clapping, swaying and singing with the Maccabeats.

The result? More than $200,000 raised for Friendship Circle programs and thousands of smiles and cheers.

“We were thrilled to be able to host this year’s Friendship Circle walk at JKHA/RKYHS and welcome so many of their supporters and friends,” commented Rabbi Eliezer Rubin, JKHA/RKYHS head of school. “Through the countless numbers of our students who eagerly serve as their volunteers, we’ve seen the profound impact that the Friendship Circle has on them and the community.”

“It’s a beautiful event,” said Rachayl Wizenfeld, who attended the walk and fun fair with her family. “It was so well organized and a nice opportunity to meet other families.”

For Adina David, the FCwalk was a great way to team up with her three-year-old daughter, Maya, who expressed an interest in helping others.

They decided on Friendship Circle, Adina said, in part because “I have a cousin who benefits” from the program. Coming to the walk allowed them to do a “chesed [good deed] together.”

Jay Murnick came out with his children ages four to eight, and he’s already talking to them about the important work that Friendship Circle does. “When they are older, I want them to be active volunteers,” he stated, explaining that Friendship Circle is something special.

“It is such a wonderful organization; you see that with everything they have done, and everything they will do with LifeTown,” Murnick said, adding, “You see the benefits of Friendship Circle everywhere you go in the neighborhood.”

For more information, visit www.FCwalk.com.

By Faygie Holt Levy