July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Miami Marathon Was a Life Changing Experience

On Sunday, January 29, I completed the Miami Half Marathon with Team Friendship. I decided to join Team Friendship because I have been volunteering with Friendship Circle for six and a half years and am a Friendship Circle president at Ma’ayanot. As president, I try to recruit as many people as possible to be volunteers. The thought to do the marathon occurred to me after attending a presidents meeting where I heard a story from someone else who ran the marathon; I was inspired by his story and wanted to do it myself. After being involved with Friendship Circle for many years, I feel as if I am a part of the Friendship Circle family.

I started to think about the marathon more and more and brought the idea up to my father, asking if he would do the Miami Half Marathon with me. We joined the team and started fundraising right away. As the weeks went by, and the day of the marathon drew closer, I became more and more excited. Before I knew it, together with my family, we were on our way to Miami to spend the weekend with Team Friendship and prepare as a team before the big day.

During the weekend, everyone who was a part of Team Friendship, whether they were from Brooklyn, Chicago, Maryland, Cleveland or anywhere else in the world, came together to be as one team. Over Shabbat, there were inspiring speeches delivered by various team members; they spoke about how Friendship Circle impacted their lives. From Friday night dinner until after Havdalah, the excitement, energy, love, inspiration and the building of new friendships permeated Shabbat.

On Saturday night, I could not sleep because I was so excited. Wake up was at 3:30, and was followed by breakfast, team photos and last minute coaching advice before we lined up and started walking towards the start line at 5:00. Standing in the lineup and waiting impatiently to start, I started thinking about everyone who was a part of the Friendship Circle family and knew I was standing there for a reason. Despite the cold, rainy and windy weather, the marathon was a once in a lifetime experience. Going through the streets of Miami along with thousands of people from other organizations made me realize that I really was making a difference in another person’s life. As I went through each mile, I could not stop thinking about Friendship Circle and was proud to be able to be part of such an amazing organization.

As I crossed the finish line, I felt a feeling that could not be described through words. At first, I could not believe that I had accomplished my goal and I could not have been happier at that moment. It might not have been the nicest weather, and I may have been sore afterwards, but I do not regret doing the marathon. It was an experience that changed my life. As I wake up every morning and look at my medal sitting in the case, I will never forget the moment of crossing the finish line and will always remember how much being a part of Friendship Circle means to me. The inspiration of the children of Friendship Circle motivated me to cross the finish line. There are times in life when someone faces a challenge or has a bad day, and there might be times when you want to do something but are afraid that you won’t succeed. However, no matter how afraid you are or how hard the challenge is, you can still get through those moments and accomplish anything that you put your mind to. At first, I was unsure if I would really be able to cross the finish line and complete 13.1 miles but I showed myself that I could do it. Never doubt yourself, because as long as you try and believe in yourself you can do anything.

By Esti Knapp

 

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