Nine bicyclists riding across the United States stopped in New Albany, Ohio last week to help raise awareness of the Friendship Circle, a Jewish program that pairs teens with special-needs children and adults.
“It’s something more than just riding cross country,” said 18-year-old Efraim Shaw of Monsey , N.Y.
Friendship Circle started in Detroit in 1994 when Jewish leaders hoped to pair teenagers with special-needs children to form lasting friendships.
By 2003, the concept had developed into an organization, which now includes more than 79 chapters worldwide, according to the Friendship Circle International website.
“I believe everybody deserves a friend and everybody needs a friend,” said Esther Kaltmann, director of the Friendship Circle Columbus chapter. “Our goal is for everybody to have a friend.”
Kaltmann said the Columbus chapter, located in the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center in New Albany, has 60 special-needs children and adults, ages 5 to 24, paired with 120 volunteers, ages 12 and older.
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