By Rochelle Maruch Miller –
Friends of the IDF (FIDF) recently held a day of training for wounded veterans through the Strides Program at Park HaYarkon in Tel Aviv. Strides participants who joined the program during the past two years were trained for various triathlons with the help of the program trainer, psychologist, and manager.
Strides helps wounded IDF veterans discover their strength by providing special prosthetics for athletic activities, giving them the means to live life to the fullest. The program, which focuses on leg amputees, also brings together a group of wounded veterans who, with the help of their new prosthetics, partake in running, bike riding, and other challenging activities, together. Each day brings new challenges but thanks to the Strides Program wounded veterans are revitalized and given confidence, restoring their belief in themselves and empowering them.
Their injuries force former soldiers and commanders to begin their lives anew, affecting both their physical and mental wellbeing. The ability to participate in sports can lift their spirits and give these men and women a new lease on life. Ultimately, the goal of the program is not just to bring about a lasting effect on these veterans. The program is also meant to promote awareness and tools for this kind of recreation, such that all leg amputees can enjoy a higher quality of life.
“The Triathlon training was a gathering event for all Strides members,” said Dikla Goor Prihed, Strides Program Manager. “This marked the first time that a group of 14 amputees were running and biking in the main park of Tel Aviv, leaving lots of opened mouths and eyes opened wide in amazement behind them. For many of these IDF Amputee Veterans, participating in the Strides Program has given them the opportunity to run and bike for the first time after suffering their injuries 20 and even 30 years ago. Finally, the dream of competing in triathlon became a reality after years of dreaming. The Strides Program has given these brave veterans a great gift by affording them the means to live their lives without limitations.”
Yaron Marx is a participant of the FIDF Strides Program and an IDF wounded veteran. An above the knee amputee in one leg and below the knee amputee in the other, Yaron served as a Lieutenant in the Israeli Air Force Intelligence Unit from 1998 through 2002, giving everything he could to the position. Among his tasks were executing and managing projects at the heart of the corps’ ongoing activity. After serving he studied Industrial Engineering at Tel Aviv University and served as an adviser, ultimately winning the Intertraffic Innovation Award for his work in engineering in 2010, Today he enjoys playing wheelchair basketball, hand-bicycling in many races and competitions in Israel, swimming, sailing, and water-skiing. He regularly visits the rehabilitation center in Tel-HaShomer Hospital, motivating and inspiring patients who have just started their rehabilitation process. The FIDF Strides Program provided Yaron with two different prosthetics, one which enables him to go running and the other, which enables him to ride a bike; both invigorating activities which he is attempting for the first time since his injury. It has restored his self-confidence and helped him to regain his life.