June 16, 2024
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Dash for Dignity: Racing Towards a Brighter Future for Israel’s Needy

Zack and several of the boys from the TABC track team, which Zack coaches, at the finish line. (Credit: Yad Leah)

Yad Leah, an organization that distributes over $5 million worth of clothing to Israel’s needy every year, held its annual Dash for Dignity on the bright, sunny morning of November 5, at Overpeck County Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. This was my first time joining Yad Leah’s Dash for Dignity, and because I had so much fun, I hope to return every year! When registering, you could select a 5K, Kids Dashes, or 1-Mile Family Walk. Of course, my husband Zack, who loves to run and just last month raced up 86 flights of the Empire State Building, signed up for the 5K, while I chose the 1-Mile Family Walk. You also had the option to sign up as a part of a group, such as Ma’ayanot, RYNJ, Young Israel Fair Lawn, etc, or as an individual.

We parked by the amphitheater and arrived at around 10 a.m., noticing the sound of Jewish music blaring ahead and glimpsing nearly 1,000 Jewish men, women and children dressed in white and blue 2023 Dash for Dignity T-shirts in the distance. As we approached, we saw Netanel Katz, a.k.a. Simcha on Wheels, on stage excitedly shouting about the festivities, volunteers serving cotton candy and popcorn, and other volunteers giving out T-shirts to pre-registrants and coordinating last-minute registrations. We checked in, threw on our T-shirts and personalized bibs containing Chronotrack B-Tag timing chips, and received blue, branded drawstring bags full of goodies such as branded pens, mini first aid kits, bookmarks and Yad Leah pamphlets. We snapped a quick picture at the photo booth, posing in front of a Yad Leah step-and-repeat backdrop. The printer beside the booth immediately printed out photo strips for us which we would later bring home and hang on our fridge and also gave us the option to enter our phone numbers to text us digital copies. Zack stretched in preparation for the race and then took off at the start line for the 10:30 a.m. 5K along with 260 other participants, including several of the boys on TABC’s track team which Zack coaches.

Posing by Dash for Dignity backdrop before the race.
(Credit: Yad Leah)

While waiting for Zack to finish the 5K, I walked around the park, taking in the scene around me. Kids were shrieking and playing in inflatable bounce houses, volunteers face painting colorful and intricate designs on kids’ faces and inflating and shaping balloons to create various whimsical figures, and a bountiful spread of pre- and post-race food sponsored by various kosher restaurants in the area. The impressive food selection included bagels with cream cheese, tuna or egg salad, volunteers wearing gloves preparing the sandwiches on the spot. Also available were salads, dried fruits, apples, bananas, snack bars, cookies and muffins. Drinks included decaf and regular coffee, orange juice and an entire picnic table stacked with cases of water bottles to keep the participants hydrated. I also watched as the Kids Dashes took off, and it was the most adorable sight to see when the small children ages 3-8 lined up next to each other all fired up and ready to compete.

I hurried over to the finish line when I heard the announcer warn that the 5K runners were approaching and animatedly started cheering with the people next to me. When the winner crossed the finish line, I was thrilled to discover that it was none other than my good friend Daniel Ginsburg from Silver Spring, Maryland, who completed the race with a gun time of 20:21.3. I was so proud of Zack, who followed shortly after with a gun time of 22:38.5, placing 9th overall and second in his age group.

At 11:10 a.m. Zack and I joined the leisurely 1-Mile Walk, which was chill and
allowed families to unwind and connect. Adults, kids and strollers filled the walkway, and it was beautiful to be a part of the Jewish families walking in support of Israel. I was wearing an Israeli-flag as a cape, and people stopped and asked to take pictures of me with the flag.

The Closing Ceremony & Awards took place in front of the stage at 11:40 a.m. The three male and female champions for each age group were called up, given medals and photographed. Results from the 5K have been posted on www.runsignup.com/Race/Results/99254, where you can search your name or bib number to see your stats.

Ezra Splaver (7th place), Daniel Ginsburg (1st place) and Zachary Greenberg (9th place) at the finish line. (Credit: Yad Leah)

My favorite part of the event was how carefully organized every detail was planned. For example, the food handlers all had gloves, there were security and EMS personnel on site from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, and signs all over the park and pre-event informational emails made it very clear where to go and when. It was clear that a lot of time and effort was put into the planning and there was careful consideration to make sure that everyone had a safe, fun time. I look forward to next year’s dash, and I encourage all of you to join! Maybe I’ll even do the 5K!

Ahuva Greenberg grew up in Silver Spring, MD and lives in Teaneck, NJ with her husband Zack. She just became a Benefits Specialist at IPG Mediabrands. Ahuva recently watched Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour movie in theaters. Ahuva runs an Instagram page where she posts about her and Zack’s fun adventures, so make sure you are following @funzacktivities!

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