This year, United Jewish Generations, a nonprofit working to add happiness and warmth to the lives of South Florida senior citizens, will celebrate National Senior Citizens Day with a bike-a-thon.
On Aug. 27, participants will start their Bike for Seniors ride at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC in Northeast Miami-Dade after a 7 a.m. breakfast and have the option of doing a 6- or 10-mile ride through Aventura. All proceeds will go to United Jewish Generations.
Bike For Seniors is an opportunity to show respect and gratitude to those who have paved the way, director Menachem Smith said.
“I found that the seniors were very lonely. Many had very little programs, very little involvement with their synagogue. And visiting in the elder facilities I saw it was even worse,” he said. “We are trying to change the tides.”
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For 14 years, the nonprofit has inspired senior citizens through various services and events. This year brings the second annual Bike For Seniors, this time organized around National Senior Citizens Day on Aug. 21 instead of Grandparents Day in September to make the event more inclusive.
The goal is to bring awareness to the needs of the elderly community, no matter their religion or grandparent status. Even people who can’t ride can be there in spirit and sign up as a virtual biker, he said.
“There was just such a great sense of love and warmth. We’d like to open it up to anyone who wants to join — Jews and non-Jews alike. Part of the bike-a-thon is when people fundraise, but more than raising money is that it really raises awareness,” he said. “And that to us is the greatest thing.”
Participants who donate $100 can join in the 6-mile bike ride, or raise $190 to join the 10-mile ride. Those who donate $1,200 or more will receive a $100 gift card.
Eli Schechter was one of the more than 50 participants last year. He is helping promote the bike-a-thon again this year by posting fliers in his family-run store, Miami Beach Chocolates, which specializes in kosher candies. Schechter said he hasn’t ridden his bike since last year, but the 31-year-old candymaker said he’s ready to support the cause.
“It was very nice to see people come out and be together. Many people, I don’t want to say forget, but tend to give less consideration to people who are older. I did it last year and I’m proud to do it this year,” he said. “They’re the reason we’re here today — it’s the least we can do.”
Another person returning to ride is 71-year-old life coach Frumma Rosenberg-Gottlieb.
She will be riding with her husband, Simcha Gottlieb. Last year two of their grandchildren made the ride with them. Between the two of them, they have 30 or so grandchildren, she said.
“And there’s another one on the way,” she laughed.
Rosenberg-Gottlieb said the message of the bike-a-thon mirrors that of her forthcoming book, “Awesome Aging: Getting Better All the Time.”
The book, co-authored by the Gottliebs, speaks from the perspective of a baby boomer on how to keep a sense of purpose and “make your third act spectacular,” she said. The book will be available in two months.
“America happens to be extremely ageist, you can even see it in movies. There is no hesitation to make fun of someone for being old, instead of giving them respect,” she said. “But we’re not going to take the backseat. Not at the bike-a-thon, not anywhere.”
If you go
▪ What: United Jewish Generations Bike for Seniors
▪ When: Sunday, Aug. 27. 7 a.m., registration and breakfast; 8 a.m., ride begins.
▪ Where: Begins at Michael-Ann Russell JCC, 18900 NE 25th Ave., Northeast Miami-Dade
▪ Details: All bikers receive a free T-shirt. Must be 11 or older to ride. Each biker is required to wear a helmet. Bikes will be available for rent for $25, if you reserve in advance.
▪ More information: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a bike or for assistance fundraising; visit www.BikeForSeniors.org