|With Jacob Adler, seated, are, from left, his parents, Hillel and Debby; Joann Caplan; KOC staffers Yitzi Safier, Raphi Bollag, and Benji Samet; and Allison Adler. courtesy Allison Adler|
Jacob Adler gave a shy, sweet smile as he answered questions about his June bar mitzvah celebration and an upcoming family trip to Israel. But what the 12-year-old was happiest about was the part of the celebration that was taking place as he spoke earlier this month: a “bowl-a-thon” to raise funds for Kids of Courage, a volunteer-based organization dedicated to youngsters like Jacob, who uses a motorized wheelchair and has cerebral palsy.
The bowl-a-thon, held April 3 at Bowler City in Hackensack, raised $9,000.
Kids of Courage provides medically supervised trips – such as a weekend in Boca, an excursion to Orlando, and even a skiing adventure in Vermont – for children and young adults with special physical and medical needs. The organization also provides respite care for families.
“Jacob and our family wanted to do this for his bar mitzvah because we want Kids of Courage to be able to continue doing the amazing things they are doing,” said his mother, Debby Adler. (Jacob’s father, Hillel, was too busy shepherding kids at the simcha to talk at length.)
One thing Kids of Courage did was to provide a counselor, Yitzi Safier, 23, who accompanied Jacob at the hospital where he underwent surgery, so his mother could be home with the family’s three other children.
Safier has been Jacob’s counselor – and friend – for two years.
“I know that it seems like we as counselors are giving so much to the campers and their families,” says Safier, “but the truth is that we’re the ones benefiting the most. Jacob’s personality makes everyone want to hang out with him. Although I’m his counselor, you wouldn’t know it by just observing us on a trip. Whether it is me or one of my friends there is always someone that wants to spend time with him.”
At the bowling alley, bowl-a-thon participants enjoyed cupcakes that were donated by Butterflake Bakery in Teaneck. A raffle showcased prizes from local establishments, such as a $200 gift certificate donated by Glatt Express, also in Teaneck.
The prizes and refreshments were arranged by Joann Caplan, the Adlers’ neighbor.
“The families on our block are like one big family,” Caplan says. “We are in each other’s homes and we hang out on Shabbos afternoons. Our kids always make sure when they play that it is something that Jacob can play too.”