I keep finding that the best experiences in life, are those for which I prepare the least and which do not go according to plan. Last weekend a group of us from Frisch went to Florida to support Camp HASC in a road race. Only a day before we left, we didn’t think we were going and it ended up being one of the more meaningful and enjoyable weekends we have had in high school. Over a dozen of us teachers and students affiliated with the Frisch school, ran in the Ft. Lauderdale A1A half marathon in support of the Hebrew Academy for Special Children on Sunday, February 16.
Other participants might focus on how hard it was to raise the money we raised and some of my peers might focus on all the training they did for the race. I’m here to tell you that I didn’t do very much of that but I had a terrific time, was able to make a meaningful impact on the needs of HASC, and ended up getting blown away by some of the HASC campers I had the privilege of meeting. As little as three days before the start of the race, when our group flight was cancelled, we did not have a ride to Florida and it looked like the snowstorm was going to keep us cloistered in the cold misery of the snow.
For a while we were planning on taking a greyhound bus but the storm’s path prevented that too. Then on Thursday afternoon, a few generous individuals saved the day and arranged a charter plane for us to go on Friday morning. Maybe it’s best that I didn’t prepare for this race because I was able to go and take the experience in with a clean point of view. It turned out this was much more than a half marathon. I learned quickly that the weekend was a special opportunity for those of us from the Frisch team to learn first-hand what makes HASC so special. We spent shabbos in a hotel with 200 other individuals from around the world who were equally committed to supporting HASC in order to make it possible for other children to spend their summers at the camp. Over shabbos I met Herschel, an energetic boy with special needs, who joined us and completed the run with us. I was inspired by Yaakov, an amputee, and a HASC camper, who also ran the half marathon. Over the course of the weekend, whether at davening, at the “pre-race pump up pasty party,” or the barbecue after the race, we found ourselves developing personal and emotional bonds with the campers and staff members of HASC who spent shabbos with us and raced with us. There was special pleasure to running a road race at the edge of the ocean and in beautiful Florida weather. The pleasure here was all the more sweet because the race was a celebration of HASC, their campers, their staff, and those of us from Frisch who spent three months building support for HASC. We came satisfied with our individual outputs and gratified that we had the privilege of spending a remarkable weekend with some remarkable people.
By Ezra Koppel