Geerz Charity Ride Breaks Records
On March 19th-21st, Geerz held its 7th annual Get Into Geerz, two-day charity bike ride, and it was a huge success. Despite formidable challenges presented by unseasonably late torrential downpours, well over 100 riders enjoyed two days of breathtaking cycling in the Nachal Tzippori and Ramot Menashe regions. Seven riding groups of varying levels from beginner to advanced Enduro were guided by some of Israel's most experienced and dynamic biking guides. Our riders represented an impressive cross-section of the biblical prophecy of the ingathering of the exiles as they included Olim from the US, UK, South Africa, Venezuela, Switzerland, Australia, and Israel. This diverse group came together and collectively rode over 10,000 kilometers and climbed over 150,000 meters of some of the most magnificent trails in the Holy Land. It was truly a celebration of life, Zionism, camaraderie, and giving. The riders were hosted in the lovely Kibbutz Lavi hotel where we received wonderfully personalized service from descendants of the founders who have roots in the legendary Kindertransport during the Holocaust.
The first day of the ride, the riders awoke to whipping rain. Since riding was impossible in these conditions, we spent the morning in the Tiberias Hot Springs. The sight of dozens of men in outdoor hot springs during a powerful rainstorm was truly primal. As it turned out, G-d shone upon us, both figuratively and literally, and the weather cleared up in the early afternoon. After some last-minute course adjustments, we rode along the 24 km Nachal Tzippori spring which is featured prominently in the Talmud in the days of the Sanhedrin. Took in the breathtaking vistas of Zichron Ya'akov, where we enjoyed stunning trails and thrilling single-track riding in Northern Israel. The riding day ended with an apres ride party, featuring craft beer and on-tap from Oak and Ash, followed by a sumptuous barbecue. Riders heard a moving presentation about the remarkable impact the Geerz program has had on hundreds of kids annually, and that their efforts enabled.
The second day of riding took place in the verdant hills and fields of Ramot Menashe and concluded in the community center in Kibbutz Ein Hashofet. The riders finished triumphantly and were greeted with a street food feast at the finish line. Most importantly, together, the riders raised over $600,000 to put kids throughout Israel into the revolutionary Geerz therapeutic mountain biking program. Due to the ride’s success, we are now less than $150,000 short of meeting our $1,000,000 annual goal which will fund Geerz’s ambitious expansion into the many additional youth villages and special education schools that have asked for our services. Thanks to the generosity of our riders and supporters, Geerz will purchase bikes, gloves, helmets, hydration packs, and put more kids on the trails. Geerz will teach these kids essential life skills through the magic of mountain biking with its incredibly dedicated staff and a highly customized curriculum.
We have already announced that the GIG 2024 ride will take place in the Judean Desert on March 10-12 and we look forward to an even bigger and better ride.
Geerz is Going Mobile
The magic of mountain biking and the transformative impact of the innovative Geerz program on hundreds of kids each year are well established. However, the logistics involved in running a mountain biking program are formidable. Aside from the high cost of equipment such as bikes, helmets, hydration bikes, there are also significant maintenance costs. But perhaps, the most daunting obstacle is convenient access to appropriate trails in which to conduct the program. For years, Geerz has been limited by the fact that we are not mobile. Our groups require proximity to trails and in the case of our youth villages and special education programs, we also require a storage facility for the bikes we provide since the kids do not have their own bikes. Recently, we ran a spectacularly successful program for Ukrainian orphans in Nes Harim. Unfortunately, the school was forced to relocate to a new location which is not suitable for mountain biking. The absence of the program has been devastating for the kids. Similarly, we are creating a desperately needed Geerz program for a high school of at-risk Charedi girls. Because of religious sensitivities, these girls cannot possibly ride from their school. Geerz now has a unique opportunity to service these groups with an entirely mobile operation. A generous donor has paid for a custom-built trailer to store and transport enough bikes for an entire group. Another donor has offered to pay half the cost of an all-terrain vehicle that can bring this trailer to trails which will allow those groups that cannot ride locally to experience the magic of the revolutionary Geerz program. The cost of the vehicle is $80,000, half of which is pledged if we can raise the additional $40,000. This is truly an extraordinary opportunity to make a transformative difference in the lives of hundreds of kids for many years to come. Of course, we would be delighted to appropriately dedicate the vehicle in honor or memory of the party the donor designates. Please help us reach so many additional kids. If you or someone you know may be interested in this incredible mitzva, please reach out to us.
A Parent's Testimonial
My eleven-year-old daughter has always suffered from significant hand tremors and low muscle tone. Needless to say, this took a terrible toll on her self-esteem. It deeply affected her social life and made her extremely reluctant to participate in any kind of sports or physical activity. I was looking for an activity that would help my daughter overcome her challenges. When I suggested Geerz, she thought it sounded like fun.
The results were far beyond my most optimistic dreams. Geerz did far more than simply teach my daughter competence in an area that had always eluded her. Geerz literally completely changed my daughter’s view of herself. Instead of being timid as she used to be, she began to see herself as someone who is brave and adventurous. She began to do things that she never would have dared to attempt before. She is literally a different child. The amazing part of this is that her tremors and her physical limitations have not magically disappeared. They are still there and perhaps they will always be. What has changed so profoundly, is my daughter’s perspective about her challenges. They no longer define or restrict her.
Her world is now filled with endless possibilities. The transformation is nothing short of miraculous. As a mother, I cannot adequately express my gratitude to Geerz for setting this miracle in motion.
A Rider's Testimonial
My name is Moshe Lifshitz. I am 37 years old and I live in Beit Shemesh with my wife and children. When I was 17, I was working in a Matzoh factory when my right hand got caught in a machine. Parts of three of my fingers were amputated and I underwent nine surgeries. I had dreamed of joining a special forces unit in the IDF and had worked extremely hard to achieve this goal. Needless to say, my devastating injury put an end to this dream. I spent years doing intensive occupational and physical therapy but what truly helped me was cycling.
As a right-handed person, the many limitations caused by my injury thrust me into depression. Cycling taught me how to balance my hands and properly compensate for my physical challenges. But more importantly, the psychological benefits of cycling, the sense of freedom, of covering ground, of being in harmony with nature, brought me back and restored my confidence and sense of happiness. The tools I acquired in learning to ride and maintain a mountain bike extended to many other arenas in my life. It is no exaggeration to say that mountain biking changed my life.
That is why I became involved with Geerz and participate in their annual charity ride year after year. I know, firsthand, how significant their work is and how effective it is in changing the attitudes and lives of troubled kids because I was there myself. And Geerz doesn't simply teach the kids to be skilled riders. Their innovative curriculum extends the lessons the kids learn in the trails to everyday problems. It is a privilege to be associated with an organization that understands what speaks to today's kids and has developed an effective platform to empower them. Participating annually in their ride is a terrific way to give back to the community.