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Jewish Journal

Friendship Circle Walk not quite rained out

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

November 30, 2011 | 5:29 pm

A little rain wasn’t going to scare The Friendship Circle — but a lot of rain was a different story. Despite “rain or shine” boasts on fliers for The Friendship Circle’s second annual Walk for Friendship, the walkathon for special needs children and their teenage buddies had to be quickly relocated indoors when it became apparent on Nov. 21 that this was a downpour that would have had even seasoned New Yorkers ducking into doorways.

“That’s what we’re all about. Special needs means you have to make accommodations. Things don’t turn out as you expected, so you make adjustments,” Rav-Noy said.

Through the Friendship Circle, 150 special needs children are matched with 325 teenage volunteers who visit them at home, help them out at Friendship Circle’s Hebrew School, take kung-fu classes with them, work at the winter and end-of-summer camps or attend holiday celebrations.

Last year’s inaugural walk brought out more than 1,000 kids and adults, who came to Rancho Park in Cheviot Hills on a sunny afternoon for a short walk and daylong festivities, including clowns, face painting, bounce houses and food. Last year, Friendship Circle raised $112,000 through the walk.

This year, Los Angeles Friendship Circle Director Rabbi Michy Rav-Noy was aiming higher, hoping to raise $150,000 and to bring out more participants with enticements like a rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline. While he met the fundraising goal, the walk was dampened — but not washed out — by the heavy rain.

About 15 minutes before registration was set to open at Rancho Park, Friendship Circle sent out an e-mail advising walkers to come instead to Friendship Circle headquarters on Pico Boulevard near Beverly Drive.

The rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline were canceled, but the Zimmer Museum’s art project, a face painting table, puppy petting zoo and musical guests, along with some homemade carnival games, all smushed into the small space. The barbecue was set up a parking lot in back, and food was sold inside.

Around 500 people visited in the course of the day.

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