Block student to go the distance in fundraising

BY MIKE SHERWIN, ASSISTANT EDITOR

This January, one Block Yeshiva High School student will be heading out of the wintry Midwest for the warmer climate of South Florida. But the student’s journey won’t be a leisurely vacation: it will involve a rigorous half-marathon for charity.

Gabriella Raileanu, a junior at H.F. Block Yeshiva High School, is working to raise money for Chai Lifeline/Camp Simcha, an organization dedicated to children with Cancer and other life threatening diseases.

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Raileanu signed up for Team Lifeline, a group that recruits runners and walkers to take part in marathons while raising money for Chai Lifeline/Camp Simcha.

Representatives from the organization came to Block Yeshiva earlier this year.

“They came to our school and they gave a presentation,” Raileanu said. “Everybody who wanted to do it signed up on a list, and I was picked.”

“I thought when the people came and did their presentation, that even though I’m not a big runner or anything, I thought I could do it and it would be really exciting to train for it,” she said. “I thought it would be really great to raise money for such a great cause.”

So, Raileanu is representing her school in the upcoming ING Marathon in Miami.

In addition to her school work and extracurricular activities, Raileanu has committed to raising a minimum of $3,600 as part of Team Lifeline — and preparing for the 13.1 mile half-marathon.

“Every day, I’ve been going running or walking, and I am on the basketball team, so I’ve also been working out there, and I’ve been going to the gym some days,” she said.

Even the cold weather has not deterred Raileanu. “The first day I went running it was really cold and I was freezing, but I just kept going. I’ll just have to wear warmer clothes,” she said.

As part of Team Lifeline, once she reaches the $3,600 mark, Raileanu’s travel costs for the three-day trip to Florida are paid for. Seventy-five percent of the money goes directly to Chai Lifeline/Camp Simcha, which has grown since its founding in 1986 to become an international non-profit organization, helping children with serious or terminal illnesses and the children’s families.

Raileanu said she has been emailing family members and friends, trying to raise money. She has also set up a Web site where people can read about her endeavor and donate money online.

Raileanu, daughter of Lorie and Michael Raileanu, said she plans to travel to Miami with her mother for the Jan. 27 marathon. Gabriella said that this will be her first trip to Florida. “I’m really excited, but also a bit nervous,” she said.

Lorie Raileanu said she is very proud of her daughter’s participation in the fundraiser.

In between school, fundraising and preparing for her half-marathon, Gabriella said she also loves playing music.

“I can play cello, bass, violin, some piano, and I have taken drum lessons before,” she said. “My favorite instrument is bass, both stand up bass and bass guitar. I think I’ve played that the longest.”

Although she said she enjoys playing classical music, often the music on her iPod is something altogether different. “I like very intense, sort of scream-y music,” she said.

Kate Friedman, activities director at Block Yeshiva, said the school has rallied around Gabriella’s charitable pursuit.

“We’re extremely proud of her for taking on such a challenge, both the personal challenge of running a half-marathon and committing to raise so much funds for such a great cause,” Friedman said. “She’s certainly inspiring everybody in the school. She’s taking on something that a lot of people would just say ‘There’s no chance I could do that.'”

To contribute to Gabriella Raileanu’s fundraising effort, visit http://www.teamlifeline.org/mypage.php?myid=1451, or phone 314-367-2255.