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Hundreds of bicyclists turn out in Bergen County to raise funds for Meals on Wheels
JUNE 15, 2014, 1:46 PM LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2014, 1:59 PM
ROCKLEIGH — They financed the delivery of thousands of Meals on Wheels by getting on wheels.
More than 450 North Jerseyans on Sunday morning pedaled 50-, 25-, 10- or 3-mile courses through upper Bergen County — hitting a dozen towns from Rockleigh to Fort Lee — for the fourth annual Wheels for Meals. The event raised $150,000 for the Jewish Family Service's Meals on Wheels program, which delivers 28,000 meals each year to the homebound elderly and disabled.
"I had to tell her it's not a race," she said. Her daughter sped off to the front of the pack anyway.
Her husband and 11-year-old had left earlier for the 10-mile ride.
The event pays for the delivery of meals, but it also promotes the program and Jewish Family Service to participants and onlookers, said Susan Greenbaum, executive director of the organization's Bergen and North Hudson branch, based in Teaneck.
Taking place in a part of Bergen County "with such affluence and privilege," Greenbaum said, the event "is an opportunity for people to gain some perspective and do something that is so, so meaningful."
The event, now in its fourth year, originated with David Feuerstein, now 19.
At the time of his bar mitzvah, Feuerstein said, he started a bar mitzvah fund to feed the hungry and delivered meals with his mother.
"You develop a connection that's really nice," he said of visiting homes, recalling how food recipients "just wanted to sit down and have a conversation."
The fund ran out when he was 15, and he decided to start a program modeled on the rides for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's run by a committee of Jewish Family Service members. Eleven students at Northern Valley Demarest High School helped out, starting at 6 a.m. Sunday to set up tables, slice bagels and pack gift bags. It was their second year helping out, said Heba Arsha of Closter, co-president of the student council.
Since 2011, the event has raised more than $400,000. The goal this year is to raise $180,000, Feuerstein said. Donors can still give at ridetofighthunger.com "Over these four years, our goal of the event is to make the community more aware and more involved," said Feuerstein, who is home for the summer after his first year at Cornell.
The event seemed to attract interest on Sunday from some participants.
"We're thinking maybe we'll get involved with Meals on Wheels," said Uri Herzog, a Cresskill resident, as he headed out for the 10-mile ride with his son and two nieces.
"I'm excited," his son, Natan, 11, said of the length of the course. "I'm not intimidated."
At the finish line, the riders were greeted by 27 cheerleaders from Cresskill High School.
"Awesome," Natan said after his ride.
"Natan led the way," Herzog said.
His cousin, Dahlia, 23, said she suggested they ride in together.
"I said, 'no,'" Natan said.
"He snuck past me at the end," Dahlia said.
Dov Torenberg of Cresskill parked his bike on a stand after finishing the 50-mile ride.
“It's a beautiful path,” Torenberg said. "Perfect weather. Very little traffic. Couldn't have been better."
- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/hundreds-of-bicyclists-turn-out-in-bergen-county-to-raise-funds-for-meals-on-wheels-1.1035626#sthash.cWQdySWq.dpuf
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