Sunday, November 6, 2016

Canvelo at the Sportiada's first Tandem Biking COmpetition

The Sportiada in Eilat is Israel's biggest sporting event.  The annual event, sponsored by the Hapoel Sport Association, is attended by thousands of athletes from dozens of companies and businesses throughout the country who compete in a large number of individual and team sports.  This year's Sportiada featured a new event: a two-day tandem cycling competition.  This is the first time in its 36-year history that the Sportiada has featured an event for athletes with disabilities.  The tandem race consequently constitutes a major landmark in the history of sports in Israel.  Approximately 50 couples participated in the race - an amazingly large number of tandem bikes even by international standards.  
The 100 tandem riders included cyclists from the three Central, Sharon, and Northern Canvelo cycling clubs, as well as riders from "Aynayim L'Shnayim" (Eyes for Two) - a group from the upper Galilee and "Galgal Or" (Wheel of Light) from the Lighthouse for the Blind near Haifa.
The 10 and 20 kilometer routes in the two races were equally challenging to those designated for single bike riders, and demanded high levels of technique and skill.  Riders had to cope with the rugged desert terrain that featured sand, gravel, steep climbs, dizzying downhill slopes, crevasses, and boulders.
Aside from the excitement, sportsmanship, and camaraderie that prevailed during the competition itself, the tandem biking event in the Sportiada made a significant impact upon the thousands of athletes gathered in Eilat for the event.  The presence of a dozen guide dogs at the opening ceremony drew a great deal of attention - exposing the thousands of athletes to the idea that people with disabilities can excel in sports and be part of the Sportiada as equal participants.
The introduction of the tandem cycling competition to the Sportiada was promoted by Brig. Gen. (ret) Moti Regev, founder of Canvelo,together with Yoram Aranstein, CEO of the Hapoel Sport Association, Prosper Ben-Hemo, president of Hapoel, and Avi Nisankorn, president of the Histadrut and Guy SImchi, a graduate of the IGDCB and head of the department for employing persons with disabilities in the Histadrut.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Happy 10th Anniversary to Canvelo!

Ten years ago Brig. General (ret) Moti Regev visited the center while riding in the area. He discovered two tandem bicycles that were being used by volunteers to ride with graduates of the center. Moti's idea of expanding the tandem biking activities soon became a reality. His idea and initiative led to the establishment of "Canvelo" – the Center's tandem biking club.
On Friday Canvelo celebrated its 10th anniversary with a ride through the Ben Shemen forest.  THis year the JNF has begun a project of planting and establishing a special grove for the blind in the forest and they are now in the process of building a special biking trail for tandem bikes called "Tovim Hashnayim" or "Two is Great".  All three Canvelo biking clubs from the center, Sharon area, and north participated in the ride, which took the bikers over rugged trails that climbed and descended through the forest.  A picnic lunch was served  at the end of the ride.
Canvelo offers a unique opportunity to engage in safe and supervised cycling activity, while traveling to different areas of the country and experiencing the feelings of pride, accomplishment, and belonging that group sports provide.   In many ways tandem biking is similar to working with a guide dog - involving the same skills of communication, trust, and cooperation between the two members of each tandem team that are so important when working with a guide dog.  The sighted volunteers who ride with their blind teammates are an outstanding example of the volunteering spirit - devoting themselves to making it possible for blind and visually impaired riders to get out and cycle.
Many members of the Canvelo cycling clubs will be participating in the Sportiada in Eilat, where teams from various companies and organizations will compete in a wide variety of sports events.  This year the Sportiada will feature a tandem biking race for the first time.
We wish Canvelo many more kilometers of biking together and making the sport of cycling accessable for blind and visually impaired riders.

Riders from all three Canvelo groups after the ride in the Ben Shemen Forest
Special congratulations are in order to Uri Basha, a graduate of the center, and Moti Rosen who completed the entire Epic Israel mountain biking competition on a tandem! The ride is undertaken by professional bikers and demands skill, stamina, and outstanding technique!
Uri Basha and Moti Rosen - Epic Israel on a tandem bike!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shana Tova!

Best wishes for the coming year to all our friends in Israel and abroad!  Wishing you a year of fulfillment, health, success, and accomplishment! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gadi Yarkoni takes 9th Place in Rio Paralympics!

The Israeli marathon runner Gadi Yarkoni participated in the marathon run today in Rio, which was the closing event in the Paralympic games this year.  Gadi placed 9th in the race with a time of 3:05:25.  This was Yarkoni's second time participating in the Paralympic Games.  His record for the Marathon run is 2:48:56.  He came in 13th place in the marathon in London, finishing in 3:01:51, and ran the New York Marathon with Noach Braun in 2010.

 Gadi ran the marathon in Rio tethered to his trainer, Yosef Gazacho, who ran alongside him or behind him throughout the marathon.  Escort runners are not allowed to run in front of a blind runner in order that they not pull them forward in any way.

 Yarkoni, 41, lost his vision in 1993 while fighting against the Hizballah in Lebanon.
He is a graduate of the center who received his first guide dog in 1996.  He was partnered with his fourth guide dog Butch, a yellow Labrador, in November of 2015.

We are proud of Gadi and the other Israeli athletes and their fine accomplishments!  Kol Hakavod!

Gadi and Noach running the New York City Marathon in November, 2012

Gadi Yarkoni and Elon Brachfeld running in the Ro'im Rahok event, 2012

Gadi and his guide dog Butch, 2015

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Bikers - From London to Slovenia

The central club of Canvelo has just returned from a week-long biking excursion to Slovenia.  The group consisted of 13 sighted riders, 9 blind riders, and several single bikers – 27 riders in all.  The first three days of the trip were in an area east of the capital city of Lubiana, and the final three days were in Bled in the western area of the country.  The routes took the bikers over scenic mountains and valleys. 
Eli Yablonek, one of the blind riders who took part in the excursion, summarized the trip in one word: "Terrific!"  Eli described the week as the best excursion the group has had so far.  "There was a lot of comeraderie, a great atmosphere, and wonderful routes."  Eli also commended the organizers Moti Regev, Tova Yanovsky, and Roni Dik as well as the volunteers who were extremely helpful throughout the trip and Ilan Sivan who maintained the tandem bikes throughout the trip (without a single flat tire!) .  Eli particularly enjoyed taking his guide dog Glen along.  "There was lots of togetherness and a great atmosphere.  We're waiting for next year!"  
Canvelo Riders in Slovenia: "The best excursion so far!"
Meanwhile, Martin Segal, the Executive Director of the British Friends of the IGDCB recently took part in and completed the Prudential Ride London / Surrey 100-mile cycle challenge and raised over £1,500 for the Centre.  Martin said he was proud to have completed this challenge to help raise much needed funds and awareness for the IGDCB.  This year Martin completed the ride in 6 hours and 35 minutes, and next year he plans to do it again and take at least 30 minutes off his time!    The
Martin (in yellow jersey at  left) crossing the finish line at Buckingham Palace

Monday, September 5, 2016

Latest News about Our Staff

Lots of advancements and changes are taking place in the center staff this year!  In August we said goodbye to Eli Ben-Boher, who has been working at the center since 2003.  Eli was in charge of our puppy raisers, and also contributed a great deal to the center with his wonderful talent as a photographer.  We wish Eli and his family success in the future!
Dana Halperin has replaced Eli as director of our puppy raisers.  Dana traveled to Great Britain last June to enrich her training with Britich Guide Dogs and learned a lot that she will need to know in her new job.  We wish her success!  
Vered, who was originally designated to be an apprentice trainer together with Hilla Ben Meir, will instead be joining Dana as part of the puppy raising staff and will be certified in April, 2017.. 
Meanwhile, congratulations are in order to Hilla Ben Meir, who has completed the theoretical portion of her three – year training as a guide dog trainer and mobility instructor. 
Congratulations also to Yoav has completed his training and is now a full-fledged guide dog trainer and mobility instructor! 
We also welcome Yelena, who has joined the kennel staff.

Congratulations to all and success in your work!
Photos: Dana in the UK, Vered, Hila, and Yoav at work

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Small Kids Raise a Big Contribution!

Most schools celebrate every child's birthday during the year by asking each child to bring a small gift to every other child in the class - a custom that adds up to a significant outlay for parents, and often results in a lot of small but superfluous gifts for the children.  This year Ronit Shachar's first grade class at the A.D. Gordon School in Herzliya decided to do something different - they opted, together with their parents, to donate half of the birthday money to charity.  After searching on the Internet for a suitable charity, preferably something having to do with dogs, they found us.  
Yesterday Bracha brought Dinka to Ronit's 1st grade class to speak to the children and to thank them for their contribution of NIS 3600.  These kids not only know a lot more about the importance of guide dogs for the blind, but have also assimilated the importance of giving to others.  Kol Hakavod to Ronit, the parents, and the first graders!  The card says: "We, the pupils of the first grade class of the A.D. Gordon School, present you with this contribution that we collected from our birthday fund throughout the year - NIS 3600.  We ask that you use this money for guide dogs to help the blind.   Thank you for your cooperation!