When Cedarhurst residents Chaim and Tovah Brill endure the heat and hills of the annual San Francisco Marathon on July 27, the couple will run in hopes of raising much more than their heart rates.
They will rise above breathtaking views from the Golden Gate Bridge, and up the winding slopes of Haight-Ashbury and Fisherman’s Wharf. Most importantly, the Brills will raise money, a hoped for $5,000, for the Five Towns chapter of the Friendship Circle.
Located at the Jean Fischman Chabad Center in Cedarhurst, the Friendship Circle pairs teen volunteers with children with special needs to create lasting friendships. The program exists in over 100 places including Israel, Australia and Detroit, where it originated. Batsheva Borenstein, director of the Five Towns chapter, said that along with therapists, special education and legal accommodations required for children with special needs, “What these children really need are friends.”
Borenstein works with more than 700 volunteers and 150 families to create well-fitted pairs of teens and children to simply hang out in what she calls a “non-clinical way.” In turn, teen volunteers are able to unplug from Smartphones and laptops. The Five Towns Friendship Circle has also participated in the Miami and New York City marathons, Borenstein added.
“It’s a good organization, and a race is always fun,” Tovah said. A pharmacist at Mercy Medical Center, she and her husband, Chaim, a psychotherapist, will be the Five Town Friendship Circle’s official representatives in the San Francisco marathon. Their course, a 13.1 mile half-marathon, is entirely up-hill, an appropriate endeavor to raise awareness for the often uphill struggles children with disabilities face on a day to day basis.