Memory of fallen friend motivates life-saving

Following the successful donation of an ambucycle in honor of his good friend Yoni Jesner, Ben Casper and others have once again taken up the mantel of commemorating their friend, who was murdered in a terror attack.

The fatal attack, which claimed the life of Yoni Jesner, took place in Tel Aviv in the fall of 2002. Before he was killed, Yoni dreamed of being a doctor and saving lives. A few months ago, his close friend Ben Casper, together with Gideon Black, spearheaded a fundraising campaign. Gideon is Yoni’s cousin, who was with him on the bus bombing and survived. The fundraising campaign resulted in a life-saving ambucycle being donated to United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services organization.

Yoni Jesner

Yoni Jesner

Casper and Black have not stopped there. Due to the overwhelming response that Casper himself received from friends who wanted to donate in honor of Yoni’s memory, the two friends, together with United Hatzalah, have undertaken a secondary fundraising initiative. This time, the goal is to create a team of volunteers who will work to save lives in Israel as EMTs, paramedics, and doctors within the organization.  

The campaign’s goal is to adopt ten volunteers from among the 3,000 in the organization, who will be known as the Yoni Jesner Memorial Team.

The cost of adopting a volunteer for a single year is $2,600, which covers all of the medical supplies and operational costs incurred by a volunteer over the course of a year.

“People feel that they want to connect to Israel and do something in honor of Yoni’s memory. Those who were unable to donate to the ambucycle during the first campaign have now come forward. There is a strong desire to participate in honoring Yoni and helping him fulfill his dream of saving lives, in even the smallest way,” said Casper.

With that in mind, United Hatzalah is laying the groundwork for the creation of the Yoni Jesner, Z”L Memorial Team of lifesaving volunteer EMS personnel spread throughout Israel, which will begin operation in the coming months. These volunteers will respond to emergency calls in Yoni’s name, and every life saved by them will be in Yoni’s merit.

“Yoni was a helper and would be proud of what this organization is doing,” said Casper. “People who have no connection to Israel or to Yoni saw the campaign and began to donate. The story is one that had a sweeping effect on a number of people, who were enthralled by the concept of United Hatzalah’s signature ambucycle.

“I believe that donating an ambucycle in Yoni’s name, someone who wanted to go out and save lives but whose dream was cut short, was a truly fitting tribute. The dedication of a group of ten volunteers who will operate under Yoni’s name is likewise a truly fitting way of honoring his memory, and we are thankful to United Hatzalah for helping to make this happen.”

The campaign is structured to enable more volunteers to become EMS personnel, who will be able to respond to the scene of a medical emergency and save lives of those in need of treatment. “Every life saved, every person helped, will be thanks to our efforts,” said Ben excitedly.

Sources at United Hatzalah say that they have been inspired to assist with this campaign, in part due to a quote that was found amongst Yoni’s belongings on the bus on that terrible day when he was killed.

“If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to do something useful, then ask yourself the following questions: At the end of the week what will I have accomplished? Will I have watched T.V. or will I have watched my actions? Will I have changed my hairstyle or will I have changed someone’s life? Will I have shared gossip or will I have shared knowledge? Will I have spent money on kids or will I have spent time with them?”

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