Shana Glasser has never raced before, but she says she’s "very excited" about the upcoming ING Miami Marathon, scheduled for Jan. ‘8. As part of Team Lifeline, a group established last year to raise money for Chai Lifeline, an international children’s health network, the ‘7-year-old Glasser will run the 13.1-mile Half-Marathon through some of Miami’s most scenic neighborhoods.
Raised in Teaneck and now living in New York City, Glasser, assistant director of residence life at Yeshiva University’s Stern College, learned about the event from a friend who ran last year. But, she said, she has known about Chai Lifeline for many years.
The group, which provides emotional, social, and financial help to seriously ill children and their families, offers an array of free programs, from counseling to art therapy to family retreats. Among its flagship programs is Camp Simcha, offering overnight summer experiences for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Glasser said her family had recently been helped by the organization, so it’s "very personal for me" and for those she asked to contribute to her fund-raising efforts. "I got an amazing response," she said, noting that by the time she runs, she expects to have raised $15,000.
Every runner who raises a minimum of $3,’00 is entitled to paid lodging, airfare, race fees, and registration. Runners also have the option of spending a Shabbat together, something Glasser said she is greatly looking forward to.
She already knows several other runners and points out that the group of 50-plus participants has been connected with one another by Chai Lifeline through e-mail. "They made it easy to participate and make us feel like a group," she said, describing a program that will include both pre- and post-event meals and celebrations.
While Glasser is working with a trainer, she is also taking advantage of the training tips and training schedule posted on the group’s Website, www.teamlifeline.org. "I’m starting from scratch," she said, adding that she will be cheered across the finish line by parents and family friends. "My goal is just to finish."
The event is a "coming together," said Glasser. "I can give back to the organization and gain strength myself," both physically and in terms of emotional fulfillment. "It’s important for people to give of themselves," she said. "This is a singular opportunity."
Twenty-three-year-old Teaneck resident Mandy Storfer, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, will also be running in Miami.
"I chose to run in this marathon because I have been a long distance runner since high school and I realized that now I can combine my passion with a good cause," Storfer wrote in an e-mail from Israel. Still, she added, "This is my first marathon, and I have been training for it."
Storfer said her fund-raising efforts have been "quite a success, thanks to family and friends," and that her mother, Linda Storfer, volunteer coordinator of Jewish Family Service of Bergen County, will be going to Miami to watch the race. She noted that three of her friends ran last year. "That is how I was recruited" for this year’s event, she pointed out.
Said Storfer, "I definitely feel that it is important for the Jewish community to take care of those in need, and since this is such an important cause, I could not resist helping."
According to Ari Weinberger, who came up with the idea for Team Lifeline, "Last year ‘6 runners and walkers raised over $140,000 for Chai Lifeline, and we had a great time doing it." The organization provides online training, training schedules, and assistance in creating personal fund-raising programs. In addition, the group’s Website can accept donations for specific runners.
For more information about Chai Lifeline, visit www.chailifeline.org