Several hundred people participated in the first annual 2.5 km Walk4Friendship Oct. 25 at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park in Côte Saint-Luc. The event was intended to create much needed public awareness about children with special needs while raising funds for The Friendship Circle of Montreal, which has discovered a refreshing approach to helping families of children with special needs since its inception in 2001. Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and I took part the opening ribbon cutting ceremonies.
I was impressed to see Rabbi Dovid Russ, Label Rodell, Leslie Greenberg and others affiliated with the organization raise funds before our very eyes.In fact, when the opening ceremonies began they were at the $96,000 mark. Within minutes of the plea, that number shut up to their objective of $100,000.
More than 650 high school and university students have volunteered to bring the spirit of true friendship and unconditional acceptance to the hundreds of children who participate in Friendship Circle's recreational, social, and educational programs, as well as summer and winter camps. At the event, a variety of family activities, entertainment, and refreshments took place. Entertainment wase provided by "The Pogo Dudes," who appeared at the Just for Laughs Festival last summer and the one-and-only Yaacov Sassi. The organization is in the midst of an $8 million campaign to build the future Friendship Centre and LifeTown. This 26,000 square foot facility in Côte des Neiges, a block away from the Jewish General Hospital, will offer a unique educational setting for many public school students with special needs who will utilize the realistic town setting of the LifeTown to acquire real life skills. Info: www.montrealwalk4friendship.com and www.friendshipcircle.ca. In the photo above, I am welcomed to the event by Label Rodell and Rabbi Dovid Russ.