Woodcliff Lake, NJ - Jewish Women Raise Over $534,000 In Marathon Bike Ride To Benefit Sick Kids (video)
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - Morning came very early today for the 126 women who took part in this year’s Tour de Simcha, rolling out of the Hilton Woodcliff Lake in northern New Jersey at 6:30 AM for a 72 mile bike ride that has raised over half a million dollars for children with cancer.
The women and girls who rode in today’s event came from Chicago, Virginia, Baltimore, Montreal and all over the New York area, ranging in age from 11 to 66. A diverse group of cyclists from all across the religious spectrum dressed in leggings, shorts and skirts of varying lengths and silhouettes, with some wearing snoods, bandanas and sheitels under their helmets, the riders were united by a common goal: raising money for the children of Camp Simcha.
“Everyone is really doing it for the kids, ultimately,” Tour de Simcha director Mindy Tyner told VIN News. “At the end of the day, there is nothing like fundraising and training an entire year for the cause and then riding into camp and seeing it firsthand and showing the kids that you are doing it for them.”
Watch below video as the women prepare their ride.
The ride began with Tefilas Haderech and six rest stops dotting the route in Sloatsburg, Monroe, Goshen, Port Jervis, Sparrow Bush and Glen Spey provided a welcome break, snacks and more for the cyclists. Stocked with standard items including water, power bars, Gatorade, coconut water, fruit and powdered endurance beverages, certain rest stops also featured both food and fun, with a photo booth, the Klein’s ice cream truck, Rita’s ices, pickles, an Israeli nut stand. The final rest stop, located just a mile from the camp where all the riders gathered to meet for their grand entrance to Camp Simcha, boasted a carnival theme and offered massages for bone weary cyclists.
Like the men’s Bike 4 Chai ride, Tour de Simcha participants received an assortment of gear including jerseys and towels, with several items produced exclusively for the women’s event including headbands, pre-tied bandanas and lip balm necklaces. Tznius was of paramount importance for some who over the years have come up with attire that allows them to go the distance without compromising on their religious standards and jerseys were available in a choice of long, short or three quarter length sleeves.
“I used to spend my whole time riding pulling down my skirt, but now I can focus on what’s on the road in front of me,” said Esther Lebovic of Lawrence who was wearing a “skant” with her Tour de Simcha jersey, a bubble like skirt that provides for both maximum movement and coverage.
Baila Caller of Brooklyn was wearing a medium-weight skirt with just a slight flare at the bottom, giving her the ability to pedal with no worries.
“After a lot of different rides and skirts I found what works for me,” said Caller.
Tour de Simcha was the brainchild of Libby Akerman of Monsey who noted that women also wanted to have a Bike 4 Chai-like opportunity to raise money for Camp Simcha. Akerman estimated that there were 40 women who rode in the first Tour de Simcha, which continues to evolve with each passing year.
“Honestly, it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” said Akerman. “It’s growing every year and it’s getting younger and way more exciting and the energy is just insane.”
Dasi Gobioff, the official captain for Brooklyn riders, was this year’s top fundraiser, bringing in $36,000. Gobioff has raised $72,024 for Camp Simcha as a four year veteran of Tour de Simcha and was clad entirely in purple, wearing a long purple sheitel and a purple helmet. Her handlebars were wrapped in purple tape and a purple balloon bearing her name was tied to her bike with a long purple ribbon.
Asked if she might get hot in her purple skinsuit that covered her entire body except for her face Gobioff replied, “It’s all in your mind.”
“If mein Tatte can trug a ruk un a Homburg in 120 degree weather, I can ride in a morphsuit,” added Gobioff.
At 11 years old, Baila Wymore was the youngest Tour de Simcha rider, cycling the race with her mother Tricia. Baila said she didn’t know if she expected to complete the entire race, and support vans throughout the route were available to transport riders to the final rest stop as needed.
Jenn Najdek of BB Cycling, which worked with Chai Lifeline on the event, was manning the Sloatsburg rest stop at 7:30 this morning. This was the second time that Najdek has taken part in Tour de Simcha.
“It is amazing to me how much money they can raise for 126 riders,” said Najdek.
Najdek called her first ever visit to Camp Simcha last year an incredibly emotional experience.
“It was really hard,” admitted Najdek. “I’ve never seen so many sick kids but they have such a great time. They put on such a show for them. Some of them are so little and I saw these poor little kids who go through so much and it is amazing to see them smile.”
Monsey resident Roselyn Feinsod, a senior partner and east regional practice leader at Aon Hewitt, is a three year veteran of Tour de Simcha who has completed multiple marathons.
“This is the best finish line in the entire world,” said Feinsod. “I’ve run the New York City marathon four times, there are millions of spectators, but there is nothing like the finish line at Camp Simcha and coming into those kids and dancing with them, just getting off your bikes, throwing your helmets on the floor and just dancing with the kids in circles. It’s just unbelievable.”
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