A Cedarhurst family continues to run, picking up more family members in its expression of gratitude to Chai Lifeline. On Jan. 29, nursery school director Tova Plaut will be running for the fourth time in the ING Miami Marathon, joining some 200 runners on the Chai Lifeline team. “We have one of the largest teams in the marathon. It’s an incredible event,” Plaut said.
Their connection to the nonprofit, which provided treatment and a summer camp for seriously ill children in the Jewish community, goes back 15 years, when Danny and Tova had their third child Jake, who was diagnosed with a rare childhood illness. “A parent with a similar situation told us about Chai Lifeline,” Plaut said. “They provided Jake with Camp Simcha, which he attended form ages eight to thirteen.”
Seeking to give back to the camp, Jake asked his mother about running in the marathon. “At age 12, he wanted to run, but I did not want him to run alone, so I joined him in training and soon after, our daughter Raquel also ran with us,” Plaut said.
The Plauts received marathon training from Tova’s cousin, Rabbi Chaim Liebman, who is known as the “running rabbi of Bet Shemesh.” In addition, Chai Lifeline provides its own trainers, Mikael Hanson and Toby Tanser, both professional marathon runners with their own history of supporting good causes and promoting the sport of running.
Tanser’s own nonprofit, Shoe4Africa, provides running shoes to Kenyan youths, who live in a culture famous for producing running champs. “Tanser sends us weekly emails with advice and sets up training programs ahead of the run,” Plaut said.
Another Long Island runner inspired by children is Rebecca Kirschenbaum, who will be running on the Emunah team, representing the religious women’s Zionist organization. The Plainview resident, who is currently a sophomore at Stern College, spent the past three summers working as a counselor at the Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, which is run by Emunah. “They have their own mini-marathon in Israel, and the winner gets to run in Miami,” Kirchenbaum said. “I am very attached to these children and I want to run with them.”
This year, Plaut will be running with her sons Jake and Sammy, with Raquel studying in Israel. Her husband will be cheering with their youngest child Nina, 4, on the sidelines. In preparation for the run, Plaut can be found running nearly 18 miles each week around her neighborhood. “The staff of Chai Lifeline managed to bring joy where there was illness and smiles when he had pain,” Plaut said. “We cannot thank them enough for all they have done for Jake and our family in our time of need.”
Last year, the Plaut family raised nearly $13,000 in their run. To contribute, visit the Team Plaut web page at www.teamlifeline.org/mypage.php?myid=57738