By Mordechai Gottlieb & Rochelle Goldberg

Tire pressure accurate? Check! Seat Adjusted? Check! Helmets on? Check! The excitement in the air was palpable this past Sunday morning, as the over 200 cyclists rode off on the glorious scenic routes of Maryland at 50, 25, and 10-mile challenges.  Together with our 3-7-year-old junior cyclists in-training, raising over 154,000 dollars to help support Bikur Cholim of Baltimore and its Mission of Kindness.

For the sixth year in a row, Biker Cholim 2019, Bikur Cholim of Baltimore/LifeBridge Health Men’s Bike-a-thon and King David Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Family Fun and BBQ event was an overwhelming success, with more cyclists, more fun, more challenges, and more money raised. This event was once again chaired by Mordechai Gottlieb and his very dedicated team: Yaakov Berkowitz, Tzvi Feigenbaum, Rochelle Goldberg, Yitzy Goldberg, Shloime Grunhut, Bonnie Pollack, Pinchos Rabinowitz, Liz Rothstein, and Noam Shiman. The Junior Bike Challenge was chaired by Pearl Rosensaft, Aliza Tendler and Mindy Benyowitz.  And the magnificent room décor was chaired by Aliza Samet and Sorala Wertenteil. Over 50 volunteers assisted with this event including Check In, Sag Wagons, Rest Stops, Food Décor and Balloon Twisting.

The excitement began at 7:30 a.m. as the “50 milers,” cycled down the path behind Beth Tfiloh’s grounds. The “25 milers” followed at 9:00 a.m., and the “10 milers” at 10:30 a.m.  Race Pace pitched tents filled with experts and supplies to check everyone’s bike for safety.  Each group, led by ride marshals, , Shlomo Caplan, Daniel Hutman and Ben Weiskind on the 50-mile route, Dovid Cynamon and Shaya Lerner on the 25-mile route, and Shmuly Abramson and Yechiel Levin on the 10-mile route, navigated the scenic country-side routes of Baltimore County.  Coach Noam Shiman, who coordinated the weeks of training leading up to the event, provided the safety instructions and encouraged all to stay hydrated.

Along the routes, SAG wagons led by Noam Shiman, and assisted by Yanky Balula, Chaim Hochman, Meir Krausz, Mark Rothstein and Mordy Sanders, followed the cyclists in cars to help riders if necessary; Rest Stops, led by Eliezer Portnoy and his son Avrumi, and assisted by, Yaakov Cohen and family, Akiva Goldberg, Elie Goldstein and family, Ezri Klein, Shua Portnoy and family, Pasey Wealcatch, and Ruchie Weiskind and family; dispatching any necessary help was Bonnie Pollack, who managed the Command Center; Avrum Klugman ensured the success of the multitude IT pieces at the venue; and the photographers and videographer captured the memorable moments.

The youngest cyclists, ages 3-7 years old, raced through an exciting and challenging bike track on the Beth Tfiloh grounds adjacent to the men’s ride. These young children are not only great bike cyclists, but they also proved themselves to be capable fundraisers for the klal. Maxi Schleifer, age 6, raised $1,250, Rosie Cohen, age 5, raised $406, and Yisroel Meir Weissman, age 5, raised $382.!

The children were treated to snow cones and cotton candy. Mr. Moshe Rock’s famous balloon twisting dazzled everyone, and face painters transformed the toddlers’ faces into adorable animals and princesses.

The cyclists all gathered before the finish line, where they could cool off with Rita’s ices and music, while they waited for the other riders to complete their routes. This was led by Elya Rothstein, and Dani Fialkoff, and assisted by Naftali Cohen, Avi Levin, Eli Kelemer, Eitan Rock and Ezra Van Messel. At 12:00 p.m. all rode to the finish line as one unit with cheers and applause from family and friends through our spectacular brand-new Biker Cholim finish line. Laughter, excitement and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment by cyclists and spectators pervaded the parking lot of Beth Tfiloh.

After the ride, everyone enjoyed the delicious barbeque prepared by Yaffa caterers.

Rabbi Menachem Goldberger, Rav of Tiferes Yisroel, honored the guest with his remarks. He encouraged all those in attendance to remember the acronym “PE”. While it stands for physical education, which all the cyclist participated in at the bike-a-thon, when it comes to the mitzva of Bikur Cholim, it can stand for “partnership” and “energy”. The partnership comes when a person donates money to the cause, and the energy is when a person visits with a sick individual. The few minutes spent with a sick person, energizes them, knowing someone else cares about them and their well-being.

Rabbi Pinchos Rabinowitz then announced this year’s top fundraisers: Adult category-Bill Goldberg ($16,525), Steve Shefter ($5,742) who had the most individual sponsors, Avie Rock ($4,658), and Kenny Friedman ($3,100) children category- Menachem Gerstman ($2,224), and Dovey Gottlieb ($1,922). It should be noted that $3, 312 was donated in memory of Ed Schaffer, a’h, a former Biker Cholim rider, and that Steve Shefter raised his money in memory of his dear wife, Susan, a’h, and the Goldbergs raised money in memory of Michelle Jakobovits, a’h, a former Bikur Cholim volunteer.

Everyone enjoyed a very heartfelt video, produced by Ciment Studios, which highlighted people in the community who have directly benefitted from Bikur Cholim and ride in this event as an opportunity to say thank you.

While the fundraising was incredible and is vital to continuing our Mission of Kindness, we are especially proud of the atmosphere of achdus (togetherness) as people from all over our community come together, cycle together, and laugh together for a great cause.

Bikur Cholim of Baltimore will utilize these much-needed funds to service the needs of the cholim and their families in our community.  Please check our website at BaltimoreBikurCholim.org and get involved, there are opportunities for all. Here are some highlights of what Bikur Cholim does every day. Bikur Cholim fully stocks 6 Kosher pantries in Sinai, UMMC, Johns Hopkins and, GBMC. Bikur Cholim has helped with over 625 medical referrals this past year. Bikur Cholim has provided 6,115 meals to patients in the hospital this past year. Bikur Cholim has provided 2,627 home meals to patients  Bikur Cholim has provided close to 3,000 Shabbos/Yom Tov rides and rides to medical appointments Bikur Cholim has housed over 60 families this past year (families in Baltimore for medical treatment) Bikur Cholim has provided 12,612 hospital visitations, this past year alone    As we turn the page on another successful Biker Cholim, we say thank you to our sponsors, thank you to our cyclists, and thank you to our volunteers for helping reach new heights year after year. Start training for Biker Cholim 2020!  www.bikercholim.org