This week, Givat Olga’s seashore looked like a military gathering site. 160 ATVs waited anxiously for their guests. Passengers were assigned to each jeep, and after brief organization, the convoy set off northward. But the people on the jeeps weren’t soldiers, but rather 150 of Ezer Mizion’s children and adults with cancer, along with their families. The 160 volunteer drivers reported for “work” on their own time and at their own expense to take part in Ezer Mizion’s jeep trip – a trip that has become one of the high points of the annual summer camp for children and adults with cancer, now marking its twentieth year.
The trip set off from a point near the annual retreat site, and took a number of terrain trails: The Carmel, the Churshan Mountain, and the Tavor Mountain trails. In order to maintain an easy pace, the participants were divided into 14 groups, and each one chose a different trail. The trip to Churshan passed through military training areas and the drivers displayed expert terrain driving on the nature preserve’s challenging trail. Other trails went via Ramat Hanadiv and the Bat Shlomo region.
At a quick glance, the trip does not seem any different from all the many jeep rides that take place across the country. But all it takes is one look at the bald heads, a few black humor jokes about cancer, and the fact that some of the children had to undergo treatments even in the course of the retreat to get you to realize that this is a different kind of trip. Nevertheless, the participants did not stop singing, and at the parking lot near Moshav Ofer, the patients and Ezer Mizion counselors joined together in a joyous dance of hope. “This trip is really terrific and it gives us positive energy,” says 16-1/2 year old Nitzan Shacham, who has been dealing with cancer for the last five months. “It’s not just the trip, it’s everything! It’s the whole Ezer Mizion retreat..”
Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Services, summed it up: “Just imagine 160 jeeps in a long line on the beach, coming from every corner of the country to help make patients and their families feel good. It’s a day like this that reveals our people’s goodwill and ability to rally and come forward to volunteer when the time calls for it.”
Among the participants in the jeep trip was the singer Regev Hod, . “I came to support and help out,” he said. “One of my friends is among the organizers of the trip. When you come here, everything in your life falls into the right proportions.
” What makes volunteer drivers devote their time and money to take part in the event? Dave Ezer, who works in real estate, started volunteering after his wife got cancer and took part in the last retreat together with the whole family. His wife has recovered since then, but Ezer does not forget for a moment the spirit of volunteering that suffused the Ezer Mizion retreat. “I saw people who took off a day of work, paid to gas up, and came to spread good cheer, and I decided that I am also going to do it. This is the second year that I’m coming as a volunteer driver.
David Golbary, who, together with his extended family, owns the fashion chain that carries their name, and Effie Zuazu, CEO of Harel Technologies, participated last week in a jeep trip for children with cancer and their families. Ben Hauman also left his business for the day and came with his jeep to volunteer. “I joined the trip after I read about it on Facebook. The way I see it, the more I give – the more I get.”
Share a grin with the kids at Ezer Mizion Summer Camp for Cancer Patients and their Families
Yumi Dzialovsky, the head of Ezer Mizion’s cancer support hospital liaison, mentioned that “This is the biggest jeep trip that ever took place in Israel. 160 people took off from work and gave of their time and energy on a volunteer basis, all just to bring pleasure to the children. This is a true expression of the Israeli population’s strength, unity, and feeling of mutual responsibility.”
For further info: www.ezermizion.org