By Megan Burrow
An event held recently at Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck in support of the volunteer organization Kids of Courage, provided a magical night for about 40 children and their families.
Illusionist Elliot Zimet performed at the Dec. 28 event, entertaining families from across the tri-state area and raising funds for Kids of Courage, an organization that provides experiences and adventures for critically ill children.
Debbie Adler’s son Jacob has participated in Kids of Courage for the past five years. Adler, a Teaneck resident, said the programs and activities the organization provides are invaluable.
Jacob, 14, has cerebral palsy, but through Kids of Courage, he has been able to make friends and enjoy unforgettable experiences.
“Everything they do is at no cost to the family,” Adler said. “The purpose is to give the kids an opportunity to live like a typical child and give the families a breather. Many of the kids that attend are very sick, but it is their belief that every child should be able to experience fun.”
In addition to community events held throughout the year, the organization takes the children on bigger trips to places like Orlando, Fla. and California. A medical team travels with the children to ensure they get the care they need. Counselors and medical personnel bring oxygen tanks, feeding pumps and daily doses of medications for the children.
Last weekend Jacob went on a ski trip to Vermont with the organization. Ari Dobkin, a program director at Kids of Courage, said that the 50 children on the trip made up the largest ever adaptive skiing group in the country. To enable all of the children to participate, some were equipped with ventilators as they made their way down the slopes.
“It was a great weekend,” said Dobkin. “We want to show people that these are just normal kids that got dealt a difficult card. We are proud of what we can do to help these kids and their families.”
Through Kids of Courage, Adler said Jacob has been able to build valuable friendships.
“As a mom of a kid that used to spend a lot of time by himself, the most exciting part of it is that he gets to be with his friends,” she said. “It’s very hard to watch your child deal with physical challenges, but the hardest part of having a child with a disability is watching your child be alone. Now he has good friends, and when they are together they can have fun and forget about their illness.”
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