A BOY, A BIKE RIDE AND BESHERT
In 2018, Meori Landau, then 8-years-old, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, requiring complex surgery to have it removed, followed by two months of radiation treatments in the United States. Not long after, he experienced a complication: obstructions in blood vessels in his brain, which led to two bypass surgeries. The first bypass procedure was followed by a stroke that caused paralysis in the left side of his body. Meori was first treated at a children’s hospital in Israel where he began to regain some functioning on his left side, although his left hand remained paralyzed.
As a point of true beshert, Meori’s family was connected to ALYN Hospital in a special way – Meori’s father, Hovav, had been participating in the Wheels of Love bike ride, raising funds for ALYN Hospital, since 2005. For Hovav, ALYN was already a place he considered his second home. Combining bike riding with the mitzvah of tzedakah is something he looks forward to year after year. So, without thinking twice, he contacted Dr. Maurit Beeri, Director General of ALYN Hospital, and asked if Meori could be admitted there for the duration of his rehabilitation process, to which Dr. Beeri agreed. In Hovav’s words: “To us, it was clear we were going home.”
Over the next 18 months, Meori followed an intensive rehabilitation plan at ALYN to address his challenges. The rehabilitation specialists worked with him on restoring full functioning of his left leg, on his speech which had been detrimentally affected by the stroke, along with physiotherapy and occupational therapy to treat his left hand. Meori still goes to ALYN once a week to continue rehabilitation, now focusing on control over his fingers which aren't fully functional yet. Meori’s doctors and therapists are very pleased with his progress – he attends his regular school, rides a bike and is back to being an 11-year-old boy. He even starred in a television interview with his father recently to discuss his treatment and talk about the bike ride. Watch here (in Hebrew).
Early on during Meori’s rehabilitation process, in appreciation of ALYN’s work with his son, Hovav found a way to give back to ALYN – In the summer of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, when the hospital was under strict social distancing protocols, Hovav raised money to purchase accessible picnic tables with umbrellas and benches at a discounted rate, and got a friend who has a woodshop to donate his own time and the time of some of his workers to come with Hovav and Meori to deliver and assemble the items here at ALYN! With accessible picnic tables, families – including families with children who use wheelchairs – would be able to sit comfortably outside.
Last month, Hovav participated in his 17th Wheels of Love ride with a new sense of appreciation. He realized that for 17 years he had been contributing to his own child’s recovery. Making the event even more meaningful this year – Meori rode with his father for the final kilometers of Wheels of Love!
In an article Hovav wrote for Ynet before this year’s ride, he expressed his gratitude as follows: “When I join the bike ride this year, it will be as a different person, a different rider. I'll be riding in gratitude to the wonderful medical teams who worked, and are still working, with Meori, who invests and believes in his ability to continue advancing and improving. I'll be riding so that other mothers and fathers like me can benefit from the best of professional care for their sons and daughters. I'm racing on these trails for the hospital’s sake, because I want to shout at the top of my lungs: THANK YOU! And that’s a fantastic feeling.” Read the whole article (in Hebrew).
Meori’s name comes from the word “or”, which in Hebrew means “light”. Soon we will all celebrate Channukah, the Festival of Lights. Meori’s family, like so many other families touched by ALYN Hospital, will be looking forward to a renewed sense of light and joy.