Chai Lifeline Brought Him Joy in Living, Now He's Bringing Joy for a Living
23 Mar, 2015, 01:21 ET
BERGEN COUNTY, N.J., March 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In the Jewish communities of Bergen County, New Jersey, all the 12 and 13 year-olds know the Shnitzel Guys. Yitzy Haber and Danny Weinraub, lifelong friends and business partners, are the go-to entertainers on the Bar Mitzvah circuit.
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By itself, this is not a story. But one of The Shnitzel Guys, Yitzy Haber, is literally clowning around and dancing on one leg. And he's not afraid to use his disability for comic effect.
Seeing Yitzy entertain is extraordinarily inspiring to all who know his background, and specifically to the volunteers at Chai Lifeline, an international organization that provides concrete assistance and emotional support to children stricken with life-threatening illness and their families. When he was a tween, Haber was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his leg and underwent more than a dozen surgeries to combat the disease. The final surgery, after two years of grueling treatment, was an amputation. Says Haber, "I wanted to be able to dance and play sports...and be normal, which couldn't have happened had the leg been salvaged."
Once his leg was gone, Yitzy didn't look back. He learned to walk, run, and dance on his prosthesis.
"The loss of my leg was a real shock." he said. I had always been upbeat, but at that point I became really focused on being happy, even without a leg." Yitzy attended Camp Simcha, an overnight camp for children and teens with cancer run by Chai Lifeline. At Camp Simcha, everyone was happy. Haber spent five summers there, eventually becoming a counselor.
"I didn't see myself as disabled. And I could see that I really made a difference to the kids, that I gave them hope. And that gave me strength, too," he maintains.
Because he refused to see himself as disabled, Haber never allowed disability to define his life. He married and became a father. And as half of the Schnitzel Guys, he makes his living spreading the joy he has found in his life.
"It's not a party without him," one father marveled. He was astonished to learn of Haber's trials. "I used to think he was a great guy. Now I think he's a great inspiration," he proclaimed.
Chai Lifeline's mission is to bring joy and hope to the lives of seriously ill children and their families. Its five regional offices and four international affiliates provide the emotional and social support that enables more than 4,300 sick children and their families to cope with the crises and challenges of life-threatening or chronic pediatric illness.
Director of Communications
SOURCE Chai Lifeline
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