Blind Israeli runner takes on London Marathon to raise money for guide dogs
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Blind Israeli runner takes on London Marathon to raise money for guide dogs

Avi Solomon will compete in both the London Marathon and Abu Dhabi marathons to raise awareness of the need for guide dogs.

Avi Solomon
Avi Solomon

A blind Israeli runner will run both the Abu Dhabi and London marathons, raising money for a guide dogs charity in the process.

Father-of-seven Avi Solomon, 38, has not stopped running since he lost his sight nearly two decades ago.

He is being sponsored in his feat by the Jewish News, and will compete in the London Marathon in a t-shirt bearing our logo – while also raising money for the Israel Guide Dog Centre.

Avi came to Israel from Ethiopia as part of Operation Moses, where he had a challenging upbringing.

He first began losing his sight at the age of six, following an infection he contracted while he was living in a village on the outskirts of Gondar in Ethiopia.

His sight came back temporarily following surgery on both eyes when he was 14, but it gradually deteriorated.

He also sadly lost his mother at a young age, leaving his father to raise the family solo. But running has helped him to deal with his grief, he said. 

“I started running in Ethiopia, my love of running has kind of been in my DNA from day one. Sadly having so much grief in my life, I’ve turned it to be a strength.

“I’ve got family and friends with me when I do it. I’ve flipped his sadness into ‘nothing’s impossible.’”

Avi has set himself the gruelling challenge of both competing in Abu Dhabi, and London – with the marathon in the UAE possible because of the Abraham Accords. 

“The normalisation initially came through political leaders but then was organically grown through friendships and people-to-people,” he said. 

“People are people, regardless of religion … I’m very excited about it.” 

With his spot in the London Marathon, Avi will be aiming to raise around £45,000 for the Israel Guide Dog Centre, who last year helped him get his guide dog, Nike.

Beforehand, he had walked with a cane in Israel, which he found extremely challenging. “Just walking on the street with a stick, you’re constantly surrounded by people on electric scooters, on their phones, not paying attention,” he said. 

“I was in fact knocked over in that period by someone on a scooter. It’s a very scary place.”

Having a seeing dog has changed all that, he told Jewish News – so he hopes to raise enough money to provide someone else with the vital lifeline.

“The dogs are not only friends, they’re soulmates. The level of communication is so high,” he said. 

“I want to shine a light on the fact that some people aren’t independent because they don’t have seeing dogs, and create much more awareness for donations to be able to support those people, like I’m lucky to have.”

Martin Segal, the UK Executive Director of the charity, hailed Avi’s fundraising as particularly important during the charity’s 30th anniversary year.

“We all look up to Avi as a shining light here,” he said. 

“He’s taken this on himself as part of what he says is his ‘payback’ to the centre for giving him a guide dog. He goes about his life in Israel now, he travels the country, he has more than one job, and part of that is he has the guide dog with him.”

The guide dogs charity will be holding a special anniversary event at the Jewish Museum on October 4, where guests will hear from Avi, while the runner will also be honoured at a special event at the London Stock Exchange with the support of Justine Zwering, head of Primary Markets Israel. 

To help Avi achieve his goal, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/2021-london-marathon-team-avi

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments