By Keri Guten Cohen, JN
A sea of white moved as a major wave over the landscape of the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield Sunday as nearly 4,500 people participated in the fourth annual Walk4Friendship.
Even dogs were decked out in the white T-shirts sporting the logo of Friendship Circle’s major fundraiser, which provides about one-third of the organization’s $1.2 million budget.
This year’s goal is $400,000; with donations still coming in, the tally at press time stands at $387,536.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov started Friendship Circle in 1994 to help Jewish addicts and alcoholics; his wife, Bassie, soon added the program to help children with special needs and their families.
Now the Meer Family Friendship Campus is home to Friendship House and the Ferber Kaufman LifeTown.
Even the weather — sunny,but not too hot — cooperated for the event.It was so nice that Sherri Litman of West Bloomfield and her son, Eric, 13, decided to do the 5K walk rather than the one-mile family walk.
“We are here to supports friends,” Sherri said.
When walkers made it to the nearbyFriendship Circle campus, they weregreeted with ice-cold water, popcorn and cotton candy, fruit and a lunch of hot dogs, potato knishes,corn and cookies — all served by volunteers.
Kids enjoyed a petting zoo, climbing wall, merry-go-round, acrobats, craft booths and more.
A concert by the Chillbodies, headed by pianist Kodi Lee, a 13-year-old who is blind and autistic, capped off the event that had people lin-gering into late afternoon.
“This is such a great fundraiser,” said Alex Sherman, 13, of Birmingham, a Friendship Circle volunteer.
“Yeah,the food is great,” interrupted her friend Jesse Arm, 13, of West Bloomfield, also a volunteer.
Alex continued unde-terred, except for rolling her eyes at Jesse.
Friend Noah Singman, 13, of Bloomfield Hills,just listened.
“When you go inside the building and see kids with special needs you know it’s a great place to get help,” she said.
“This fundraiser helps Friendship Circle go above and beyond — and it’s already amazing!”