SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Hundreds of runners ignored frigid temps and cloudy conditions earlier this month to take part in the second-annual Daffodil Dash, a race organized by Am Yisrael Chai! to help kick off Genocide and Prevention Awareness Month in Georgia.

The run – which began at Georgia Perimeter College and ended at the Abe Besser Holocaust Memorial at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta – drew individual runners and groups from across metro Atlanta representing area schools, synagogues and other organizations.

The Epstein School Team, with more than 80 participants, took top honors for having the largest group and raising the most funds. Raoul Nowitz, a Dunwoody resident and Epstein School parent, was the top finisher. Marissa Pierce took first place in the overall women’s division, and Jody Scially won the women’s masters division.

The Dash honors the memory of the 1.5 million children who were murdered during the Holocaust. The daffodil, organizers explained, represents the Jewish stars worn by victims of the Holocaust. These flowers have a short lifespan but are resilient and return each spring, a recurring reminder of those who suffered during World War II.

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As part of the Daffodil Project of Am Yisrael Chai! – which will see 1.5 million daffodils around the world to each of the children who perished in the Holocaust – additional flowers will be planted for every person finishing this year’s race. So far, 27,000 daffodils have been planted.

“The message of the Daffodil Dash and Project is to remember the children and to make sure that a tragedy of this nature never happens again,” organizers said in a statement. “We bring the message of the Holocaust to today’s world by adding our voices to protest violence and genocide occurring in the world today.”

To that end, Am Yisrael Chai! Teens are supporting “Kids for Kids,” and “Raising South Sudan,” organizations that bring help and hope to children and families in remote villages in Darfur and South Sudan.

This year’s race was followed by a ceremony at the Abe Besser Holocaust Memorial featuring Ngor Kur Mayol, a refugee and former Lost Boy from South Sudan, and Jay Ipson, a Holocaust Survivor from Lithuania.

Ngor experienced first-hand the atrocities and difficulties associated with the conflict and genocide in South Sudan. He made a promise not to forget his village, where only 2 percent of boys and 1 percent of girls graduate from elementary school. In some areas of the Sudan, 90 percent of adults can’t read, and children attend classes under trees or in grass huts.

Ipson, a survivor of the Kovno ghetto, narrowly escaped deportation and certain death. A co-founder of the Richmond Virginia Holocaust Museum, he is active in Washington, D.C. fighting for the rights of Holocaust Survivors.

Ngor is a co-founder of the Raising South Sudan project, building a permanent school with classrooms, latrines, a water supply and a kitchen in his former village. The Daffodil Dash is proud to support this project.

To support the Daffodil Project, plant daffodils at your organization, or to find out more about Am Yisrael Chai! please visit amyisraelchaiatlanta.org. Full race results are available at daffodildash.org.

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