Thursday, March 23, 2023

We are blessed in the community of The Jewish Link readership to have so many thousands of people whose focus is on chesed, and providing myriad ways of assisting others. Sometimes it’s global, sometimes anonymous and sometimes it’s personal. Such are the special folks who, when it comes to chesed, don’t just “dream big,” but also stay up all night and do the work. Our communities are rich with such amazing people who make chesed the standard way of life.

Almost exactly a year ago, The Jewish Link reported on a remarkable project that community member Jody Shukovsky took on, with the support of the local community and others, to provide winter coats, clothing, shoes and personal items for an entire school of underprivileged children in New York City. (See “Clothes for the Body and Soul,” January 6, 2022.) This year we report on a more personal, and no less wonderful, effort for her own extended family.

The Shukovskys have a 7 ½-year-old nephew, Grayson, son of Jason Shukovsky’s brother, Alan, who lives in Florida with his family. Grayson suffers from a rare neurological and developmental condition, Rett syndrome (Rett). Often, shortened lifespan can be related to injuries from accidents or falling due to unstable ambulation, pneumonia, seizures, malnutrition, or feeding and swallowing issues.

Until recently, Grayson’s activities had been confined to mostly indoor, modified and carefully supervised activities. However, thanks to community support primarily of the Teaneck Bergenfield Jewish Moms Facebook page, channeled by Grayson’s Aunt Jody of Teaneck, and to the Warrior William Project, Grayson is the recipient of a custom-made special adaptive bike.

The Warrior William Project is named for William Aubuchon, of Missouri, whose life was tragically cut short by Rett at the young age of 2 ½ years. The Warrior William project raises money for research in treatment or cure of Rett syndrome.

The bike has a recumbent custom-contoured padded sled mounted in front of the handle bars, and can be ridden by an adult (usually Grayson’s dad). Now, they can safely be out and about together, and Grayson can experience the neighborhood more like other kids—on a bike!

Shukovsky first learned about this special custom bike last year, and that it also had a pretty big price tag: $13,500. Her dream was for her nephew to be able to be outdoors and benefit from some of the life experiences that other kids enjoy. As we have witnessed from the past, once Jody Shukovsky sets her sights on a chesed goal, she’s going to make it happen, one way or the other.

Once the funds were raised and the bike was ordered, custom manufacture, assembly and shipping took about a few weeks. In November, Shukovsky flew out to Florida to celebrate the “maiden voyage” of Grayson and his dad together on the new bike.

Grayson will be 8 in April, and we wish him and his family many happy hours of riding together in the Florida sun!

By Ellie Wolf


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