“I asked myself a few times, ‘Why am I running in this year’s Jog4Center?’ It’s not easy doing the run. I would have to push myself. It’s really a challenge. But every time I asked myself this question, I was brought to tears. ‘This is a challenge? What about all the children with special needs? How about their parents, siblings and staff? This is not a challenge. This is an opportunity! This is our chance to get together to show our support for the Special Children’s Center and everything they do for each and every child and family.’”
This thought process was shared by one of this year’s Jog4Center runners and has been the backbone of Jog4Center’s success.
Nearly 250 runners joined together this past Sunday, September 11, Lakewood, NJ, to show that they care, to show that they want to support the entire Special Children’s Center family. One runner said, “As I’m running and see the beautifully-designed mile markers, each with a picture of a child on it, with a big, bold ‘Run4Me’ written across, it gives me the energy and desire to keep on running.”
The actual run was exhilarating and fulfilling. The runners started at 6:15 p.m. from Lakewood’s Town Square and wove through the streets of Lakewood, heading to the Special Children Center’s building on Prospect Street. Many neighbors and friends gathered at the start line to watch as the runners began the task. As the runners were running the route, many supporters came out of their homes to watch and wave the runners on.
Think about this for a moment: The children and adults with special needs end school at around 3 p.m. How do they spend the rest of their day? Where can they go? They need constant supervision, care, love and attention. What about Erev Yom Tov, legal holidays, Sundays, Shabbosos, Purim, and any other times their parents are away?
What do they do?
The answer to all these questions is that they are welcome with open arms at the Special Children’s Center. The dedicated staff and volunteers are there for every possible need a child or parents may have, literally 24/7. Their team of professional staff members work daily to help each child grow to his or her potential.
On August 16, J Wasser & Co. and The Vineyard hosted an evening of appreciation for the runners. It was an upscale barbecue event and an evening of thanks for all the runners for joining the campaign and working hard to make it a success. The runners mingled with some of the Center children and left inspired to go out and raise the much-needed funds for the Center, because special needs never take a break, and neither does the Center.
Jog4Center was started over seven years ago by R’ Moshe Serebrowski. With just a few runners, a movement was born. Over the years, this jog has grown into what it is today, with hundreds of runners and thousands of supporters. This year, the run was launched on June 2. Over the past few months, runners kept joining and working hard to get sponsors to donate for their run.
Mrs. Jenine Shwekey together with Mrs. Chaya Bender founded the Center as a small after-school program. It kept growing, and today has a program for infants, a young integrated play group, a school, and an adult program. Now, the Center has launched in New York as well. Yaakov Shwekey and his wife are involved in the Center daily, overseeing the growth and progress of the staff and children.
Sunday’s Jog4Center culminated in an evening of celebration. A lavish dinner was served to the runners and their families, who enjoyed music and the singing of Yaakov Shwekey, while experiencing the warm feeling of seeing the Center children dancing on the stage.
The evening was an unbelievable source of inspiration. As visitors walked the halls of the Center, one runner commented, “You can hear all day and night about what the Center does for the children, but seeing is believing. Getting involved with the Jog4Center was the window for me into the world of special needs. After seeing everything they do, there is no question that I will continue to support this wonderful organization in every way possible.”