Sunday was Shyella Mayk’s birthday, and she spent it with nearly 2,000 friends, most of them new ones, while raising money for Friendship Circle during this year’s FC Walk.
“I’m very happy,” Mayk said, noting that she was participating in the walk on behalf of Team Rebekah. “My closest friends were at this event so I got to spend the day with them and support Friendship Circle. This is a very well-run event, for a very special cause that is important to a lot of us in this community.”
The 11th annual Friendship Circle Walk was held October 29 at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston. Originally scheduled to be held at LifeTown—a 53,000-sq.-foot, fully accessible, educational and recreational center—the activities were moved indoors because of heavy rain and winds, but that didn’t stop the family fun. Kids colored walk-team signs, got their faces painted and played virtual reality games. Many hearty walkers then braved the elements to complete the one-mile loop.
Social media sensation Meir Kay served as the day’s master of ceremonies and infused his boundless energy and comedic touch to the day’s activities.
After the walk everyone enjoyed hot dogs, cotton candy and other treats, and then headed into the auditorium for a concert by popular Jewish singer Eli Marcus. Young kids danced in front of the stage, others swayed along with the music from their seats as they clapped and waved their hands in the air.
Chanie Zeichner brought her 9-year-old son, Yossi, to the event saying that he loves everything about Friendship Circle. “It’s an opportunity for him to be with other kids in a safe space and participate in programs that all kids can do,” she said. “Friendship Circle values every kid and adult that is a part of the team.”
FC walker Stuart Yedwab noted that nothing could stop people from coming. “Unfortunately the weather’s not cooperating, but I can’t say it’s dampened anyone’s spirits. You still have so many people here. The intent of the day is still in place.”
That intent is to raise awareness and support for families who have a child, teen or young adult with special needs.
Mitchell Caspert, whose son participants in FC programs, addressed the walk and said that the Friendship Circle has been a meaningful part of his family’s lives for years. “Friends bring out the best in each other. You can’t imagine how much these relationships have meant to our family,” he said, adding that they are lucky to live in a community that “encourages respect and empathy.”
“The walk was great. Rain or shine it’s fun to walk,” said Matthew Cohen, who cut the ceremonial starting-line ribbon. “All the food and the setup was so nice, and the music was good. I had a lot of fun. Everyone should come next year and have fun.”