(Courtesy of Chai4Ever) Over 1000 parents and children joined Chai4Ever for an action-packed Pesach Chol Hamoed Family Fun Day on Monday, April 22, at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. The day was an opportunity for families, all of whom have a parent with a life-threatening medical diagnosis, to get together in an environment where they are made to feel comfortable and ordinary despite their pain, medical limitations and challenges.
“Our family has not had a day of fun together since my diagnosis. We are so appreciative to Chai4Ever for making this possible. My children loved the Mordechai Shapiro concert at the park today,” Sarah, a resident of Teaneck, said.
For many patients fighting life-threatening illnesses, a family trip is no walk in the park. Aliza, a mother with lung failure who breathes with the aid of a mobile ventilator, rarely finds an outing that can accommodate her medical needs. At Chai4Ever events, however, she knows that she’s taken care of. She contacted her case manager ahead of time to discuss any medical concerns, and was assisted in locating areas to plug in her ventilator, was provided with a handicap parking spot and scooter, was guided to sit-down rides to prevent fatigue and had volunteers on hand to assist with the kids as needed. Afterwards she wrote, “Thank you so much for the family experience today. As tough as it is to be out and about, it was amazing to be part of this outing!”
Chai4Ever families are often enduring almost insurmountable obstacles and do not have the financial capacity or the energy to manage fun family outings. Chai4Ever plans events throughout the year at no cost to the families to give them an opportunity to laugh, play and bond with a support network of families. Whether a challah bake for the women, a drum clinic for the boys or a carnival for the whole family, there’s something for everyone. Chai4Ever children also have the opportunity to participate in Camp4Ever!, a unique summer travel camp, where each child is assigned his or her very own counselor who serves as a friend and mentor. Children find themselves in an oasis of warmth and acceptance, where life with serious illness is considered the norm and not the exception. Worries and emotions are addressed by trained staff in a safe atmosphere, and friendships are created that last well beyond the summer as campers navigate the triumphs and challenges that they encounter throughout the year.
Chai4Ever is the only organization of its kind, solely focused on mitigating the effects of serious parental illness throughout the United States and Israel. Chai4Ever helps keep the home running smoothly, provides emotional support and crisis intervention, assists in relieving financial burdens and arranges many varied recreational opportunities. Chai4Ever partners with schools, synagogues and communities to help them work together to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of serious illness or community crises.
Samuel Zaks, founder and chief executive officer of Chai4Ever, explains the organization’s empathetic approach: “At Chai4Ever, every family is seen as an individual unit with its own unique needs. Whether with crisis intervention, practical assistance, emotional support or financial and medical advocacy, we work to help with a targeted mix of services that will help the family thrive, not just survive.”
Families across the United States and Israel benefit from the services of Chai4Ever, and families with any traumatic diagnosis are encouraged to avail themselves of its services. Chai4Ever is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. The organization can be reached at 646-519-2190. Further information is available at www.chai4ever.org, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.