Am Yisrael Chai’s annual Daffodil Dash drew more than 600 people to Brook Run Park in Dunwoody on the brisk but bright morning of Sunday, April 3.
Most ran or walked the full 5K course. Others chose the 1-mile walk or run. Some just came out to support the effort to memorialize the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust by planting an equal number of daffodils worldwide and by opposing genocide and supporting threatened children in Africa today.
Two speakers presented the impact of genocidal efforts on children and the hope of surviving and thriving.
Ben Walker, who was 6 years old when his Romanian family was taken from a farm and shipped off to a ghetto in the Transnistria region, thanked the crowd, largely composed of students and families, for attending the dash. “I’m so glad you are here,” he said. “I’m so glad I am here.”
He shared the hardships he experienced during the Holocaust, such as waking up on a pile of straw one morning to find his father dead beside him.
Walker’s 3-year-old sister also died; only he and his mother survived the war.
“My sister has no grave, and these daffodils really represent the memory of my sister,” he said.
Derreck Kayongo, the director of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, survived a different homicidal dictator, Idi Amin, in a different country, Uganda, but, like Walker, he reached Atlanta and made himself a success.
“I am so hopeful every time I see people such as yourselves,” Kayongo said, later adding, “There is hope. There is hope. There is hope. There is hope everywhere.”
Leading the way in producing hope April 3 were the Marist School, which had the largest team in the dash with more than 120 participants, and the Epstein School, which raised the most money, led by top individual fundraiser Shane Bernstein.
Photos by Michael Jacobs