Medically and physically challenged Camp Simcha campers were recently flying high in helicopters at Lakewood Airport. Simcha Shain, who operates a helicopter ride program in Camp Simcha, a medically supervised overnight camp in upstate New York for children with life-threatening and lifelong illnesses, worked with Rabbi Aharon Koslowitz, director of Camp Simcha Without Borders NJ/PA, to arrange the helicopter rides for all the campers.
Lakewood Hatzolah paramedic Simcha Shain, the CEO of ParaFlight Aviation, a medical and corporate aviation company, Lakewood, coordinated the flights with Azriel Zakheim and a full flight crew from The Lev Shlomo DREAM TEAM in memory of Azriel’s dad, Hatzolah paramedic Shlomo ” Steve” Zakheim who passed away in 2013 from cancer, secondary to his exposure at 9/11.
Zakheim’s family provides the helicopter rides free of charge for all campers. Zakheim, who started the program in 2000, would fly children with cancer and illness in helicopters to help them forget their sickness and “touch the sky.”
The family also continues to run the helicopter ride program annually in Camp Simcha, located in upstate New York, and work with Rabbi Aharon Koslowitz, director of Camp Simcha without Borders, to arrange the helicopter rides for all the campers as well as the campers of The Special Children’s Center.
“Getting a bird’s eye view of their own neighborhood was an exhilarating experience that the children will remember forever,” said Koslowitz, who also serves as director of community services for Chai Lifeline NJ/PA. “The children received the priceless gift of simply enjoying their childhood in an environment suffused with care, love, joy, and the belief that they can do anything they put their mind to.”
Chai Lifeline, an international children’s health support network operates Camp Simcha Without Borders, providing a unique camp experience for more than 1,000 sick children in communities across the world. This year, Camp Simcha without Borders, Lakewood, New Jersey, provided a weeklong program to 70 campers, 30 boys and 40 girls, facing medical challenges. Each camper paired with one counselor ensures every camper’s safety and comfort. Counselors and friends keep in touch with the campers throughout the year.
When the overnight camp was unable to open due to COVID in the summer of 2020, Chai Lifeline brought Camp Simcha to the children’s hometowns with dozens of Camp Simcha Without Borders Day programs across the country. Because the day camps were a success, they became an annual program for children unable to attend overnight camp because of their illnesses.
Rabbi Sruli Fried, MSW, Chai LifelineNJ/PA regional director, said, “This was an incredible week for a record number of campers. Thanks to the united effort of community lay leaders and countless volunteers, the Simcha spirit, camaraderie, and belief in these children will keep them going for months.”
Camp Simcha is totally free for campers and depends on contributions and donations from the community. For more information and donations, contact Boruch Ber Berman at [email protected] or mail donations to ChaiLifeline, 106 Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, N.J. 08701