South Charlotte

Running for their families and for the sake of others

Mother's Day traditionally is a time for families to get together. A mom might expect to get extra sleep, breakfast in bed and time to relax.

This Mother's Day, Linda Bass; her daughter, Renee Schreibman; Amy Krakovitz; Laurie Berzack; and my family and I - with other individuals and groups - are choosing to participate in the inaugural Falafel 5K and One Mile Family Fun Run.

The event will start and finish at Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road in Charlotte. The proceeds benefit Jewish Family Services.

Jewish Family Services is a social services organization at Shalom Park that provides professional counseling, case management, support groups, parenting programs and other community outreach programs for people of all socio-economic levels.

"JFS's mission is 100 percent selfless and giving," said Krakovitz. "It needs as much of our support as we can give it."

Bass' husband, Ira, 56, said, "I can't think of a better way to spend Mother's Day.

"JFS stands for something very important. It stands for everything that we as a family stand for: togetherness, fitness, doing good for other people who can use help."

Ira Bass is participating in the walk with three generations of his family. His wife, Linda - the JFS Development and Communications Director - is helping organize the event; his son-in-law Philip Schreibman, 31, is running the 5K; and Bass is walking the one-mile with his daughter, Renee Schreibman, 30, and his grandson, Asher Schreibman, almost 2.

Asher most likely will be pushed in a buggy, said Philip Schreibman.

"This is my second year as a mom," said Renee Schreibman. "I am thrilled to be participating in this event with ... three generations of our family."

South Charlottean Krakovitz, 56, is running the Falafel 5K with her 19-year-old son, Nick Montoni. Krakovitz, who has been running for almost 30 years, is the editor of the Charlotte Jewish News, a Hebrew schoolteacher and wife and mother of two grown boys. She races about five to six times a year, winning her age group in several races.

The Falafel 5K will be the second race Krakovitz and Montoni run together.

"It's really neat to run with my son," said Krakovitz. "I want to do it again."

Montoni will be home from his freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill, where he double-majors in archeology and art history. The Falafel 5K will be a good mother-son activity, said Montoni: "We both like to run, and it's for a really good cause."

Montoni knows firsthand how JFS helps. In high school, Montoni volunteered in JFS's food pantry. Once a week he would pack grocery bags for two to three days worth of meals for families in need. He said he is glad to be helping again by running the Falafel 5K.

Berzack, owner of Chai Expectations, a Jewish Matchmaking business, is encouraging Jewish singles and her married friends to attend. Her whole family will be participating.

"A lot of folks don't know what JFS does for the community," said Berzack, who said she hopes the run will heighten awareness of the good JFS does and the services it provides.

More than 120 people already have registered, and a third of those are non-Jewish. JFS expects at least 200 runners, which will include a 35-person group from the Levine Jewish Community Center's Multisport Team.

"The race is called the Falafel 5K because it's catchy and an inventive, culinary reminder of our Jewish heritage," said Ellen Engelhardt, JFS board president. The JFS in Asheville holds a similar event every year, said Linda Bass, "so we got the idea from them."

"Traditionally Mother's Day is a time when families participate in activities together. The race/walk is the perfect venue for a family outing. All ages can participate," said Bass.

A falafel is a popular Middle Eastern fast food made of ground chickpeas, often served in a pita. There will be a vendor selling hot falafels the morning of the race, said Bass.

"At JFS, we are in relentless pursuit of your well-being," said Engelhardt. "You don't need to be a runner to have a great time at the Falafel 5K."