There were changes galore at this year’s edition of the Am Echad Walk/Run for Jewish Education in Ottawa, June 7.
Among the changes introduced by Co-Chairs Erin Osterer Smith and Amanda St. Martin-Slipacoff and their committee was a new start time. The event – which benefits all of Ottawa’s Jewish day and supplementary schools – was held at 3 pm, rather than in the morning as in past years. Another change included a new 3-km route from the Jewish Community Campus to Agudath Israel Congregation and back.
Participants created their own pledge pages on the Am Echad Walk/Run website to raise funds for the designated school of their choice. Support from the community was overwhelming as hundreds of students, family members, teachers and school alumni turned out in support of Jewish education in Ottawa.
“Every dollar raised will go directly to your schools,” said volunteer Nathan Smith, addressing the crowd of walkers and runners assembled at the start line in the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) parking lot.
Smith saluted the community’s generosity and the event’s accomplishments with “a hearty mazel tov.”
A pre-walk/run warm-up was led by Julie Fine, a personal trainer at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, and then they were off – with most participants clad in the bright orange T-shirts everyone was issued.
First across the finish line was nine-year-old Jake Feldman Starosta, who ran to raise funds in support of Ottawa Modern Jewish School. The Grade 4 student said he liked seeing all the different families who came to the event and “racing against them.”
OJCS student Talia Freedhoff, 10, also enjoyed the family aspect of the event. She was excited to cross the finish line with her mother, Stacey Segal. When asked about her favourite part of the event, Talia was quick to answer “running with my family.”
With all the fun, the fundraising component of the day was not lost on students like Talia. She also said she enjoyed running in support of OJCS and said it was a “good idea” for students to help their schools.
The fun continued after the walkers and runners crossed the finish line back at the Jewish Community Campus. There was something for everyone in the Family Fun Zone, including inflatable games, magicians, face painting, cotton candy and a delicious meal from Creative Kosher Catering.
The highlight for many, though, was seeing the community embody the spirit of Am Echad by coming together to share a beautiful afternoon in support of Jewish education.