15 Dec Tantzers Making a Freilechin Chanukah a Dream Come True for 200 Families!
For one night, over 200 families exchanged hospital bracelets for park bracelets.
For a few hours, 1600 patients, parents, and siblings got off their medical roller coasters and onto amusement park roller coasters.
For one incredible event, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters stopped fighting for their lives and had the time of their lives instead.
A few months ago, Tantzers, a Brooklyn based organization that supports families dealing with medical crisis, began planning their annual Chanukah event. “Usually we rent a hall,” says Tantzers’ founder Zelig Friedman, “but due to COVID, we needed a bigger venue.”
For Tantzers, thinking “big” meant the sky was the limit, and they rented the newly completed American Dream entertainment complex in the Meadowlands. It’s a vast, spectacular space with multiple attractions under one roof. “It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and medically challenged families were particularly isolated. We wanted to do something special,” explains Mr. Friedman.
Tantzers arranged busing, and families came from all over New York and New Jersey. Women and girls went to the amusement park, mini-golf, and ice-skating. Men and boys splashed in the waterpark. Everyone enjoyed the complimentary dinner and cotton candy.
For a special treat, Tantzers brought in Yochanan Ghoori, the Incredible Science Guy. He kept over 700 adults and kids spellbound with his science show! Highlights included making “elephant toothpaste” and a massive explosion for the grand finale.
Since American Dream is wheelchair accessible, EVERY person could participate. Volunteers even took wheelchair-bound women onto the ice and pushed them around the rink! “We could never have done it without our volunteers,” adds Mr. Friedman. Volunteers were the heart of the event, helping patients and their families enjoy every minute to the maximum. Afterwards, families thanked Tantzers for their meticulous attention to every detail.
Even with so many people, Tantzers only filled the venue to one-quarter capacity, leaving plenty of space for COVID distancing. They also provided masks and sanitizer to all their guests. That part alone created a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. “It’s honestly beautiful what they do,” said one American Dream staff member.
Tantzers and its families had high expectations going into the Chanukah Extravaganza (one parent told Mr. Friedman her child counted down to the night as if it were sefira!), but the event still exceeded anything they could have imagined. Families described their experience as beyond words. . . a blast. . .a grand slam. . . epic. . .mega.
Most important, Tantzers realized its goal: Help families forget their pain, fill up with happiness, and gather strength for their ongoing medical challenges. For Tantzers, it’s all about the smiles shining through masks and the dancing eyes illuminating faces.
Tantzers’ motto is “Healing with Power of Joy.” As one parent wrote last week, “the environment was therapeutic.” Exactly!