For the past 17 years, JCC family and friends have come together each summer to take part in the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades Golf Classic, which helps brings a greater quality of life to children with special needs. This year’s event, held at Montammy Country Club in Alpine, New Jersey, on August 7, was no exception. A huge success, it raised essential funds to support more than 800 children who come to the JCC to gain important life skills, attend summer camps and take part in a multitude of educational and recreational programs that enhance their quality of life.
In addition to golf, the day featured a third year of Play Games Fore! the Kids, where game lovers had the chance to play mah jongg, bridge or canasta, as well as men’s and women’s tennis.
“Providing basic life experiences for children with different abilities is a core JCC mission,” explains JCC CEO Jordan Shenker. “This year, the ground may have been a little soggy from the rain, keeping our golfers from completing their course, but it didn’t interfere with their spirits or prevent them from enjoying quality time with friends or a spectacular dinner reception, where they enthusiastically bid on exciting online and live auctions. There were hundreds of happy JCC supporters in attendance and thanks to them and our generous sponsors, auction contributors, chairs and staff, we raised the funds we were hoping for to continually develop new services for people in our community with special needs.”
A highlight of the evening featured Shelley Levy, director, Guttenberg Center for Special Services, who shared the story of Gil Tov, a 20-year-old with autism and apraxia, who has been participating in the center for 15 years, since the age of 5. The program has helped him gain critical skills and the confidence he needed to write for his school newspaper (Celebrate the Children) and to embrace his unique visual talents by reading mammograms. Not only has the program made a difference in his life, but also in the lives of others.
The following excerpt comes from a speech he wrote for a conference called “Dare to Dream,” which Shelley movingly read on his behalf. He had this to say in regards to what he has learned about himself and the special talents he has acquired.
“We all have much to offer in the world if we dare to dream. Because of dream believers who have fought for my voice to be heard, now I do very cool things that I never before imagined…The important thing is that I have begun a new way of thinking and one day … this hidden talent will be shown to the whole world. I believe that by telling my life story I can change the way people think about the talent and potential that is stored inside of someone who they have doubted in the past. Be creative and have an open mind…there are great abilities inside of everyone; it may just take a second look and courage to believe. Dare to dream of wonderful things and you will begin to see the magic that is all around us.”
The JCC extends special thanks to its Presenting Sponsors: the Hechler family and the Kurtz and Spadaccini family; event chairs Daniel Cohn, Cory Hechler and Tracy Reichel; the Auction Committee, chaired by Melissa Garden and Jenna Gutmann; the Games Committee, chaired by Allison Hechler; and special events chair Marci Ginzburg. The success of the day is also made possible by the event’s generous sponsors, dedicated committees and volunteers. For more information visit www.jccotp.org/playforethekids or contact Michal Kleiman at 201-408-1412 or [email protected].