Shalom Life | January 30, 2015

Israel and Houston Astro Help Berry Children

Texas orphans receive support from near and far

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: July 21st, 2011 in News » World

Israel and Houston Astro Help Berry Children

The Berrys had been pro-Israeli activists. Despite living in the US for their entire lives, it was Israel that Joshua and Robbin loved.

There had always been a connection between the Jewish couple from Houston and the Holy Land and it grew even deeper when Josh took part in a young leaders diplomacy seminar organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry eight years ago. So when Josh and Robbin were killed in a car crash on the way home from their family vacation earlier this month, leaving their three children critically injured, Israel stepped up to the plate.

The accident occurred at the same time as this year’s seminar, prompting its participants to hold a memorial service for the couple and launching a fundraiser for their injured children, Peter, Aaron and Willa.

Peter, nine-years-old and Aaron, eight-years-old, are both in critical condition after sustaining serious spinal cord injuries and are both paralyzed below the waist. Despite intense therapy, it is uncertain whether they will ever regain the use of their legs. Their little sister, Willa, six years of age, was moderately wounded and has been released from hospital.

The tragic incident shocked Jewish communities throughout North America and the news eventually reached Israel. The Israeli consulate in Houston decided to take action by organizing a charity soccer game. All profits from the match were dedicated to the orphans’ rehabilitation.

Consul Maya Kadosh conducted the opening coin toss at the beginning of the game. A movie, produced by the consulate, was shown following the event, which told the story of the special relationship between the Berry family and Israel. The movie reinforced the commitment Israel felt in helping Jewish families in the Diaspora in their greatest time of need.

“Josh and Robin were enthusiastic supporters of Israel and opened their home to any new Israeli that arrived in town,” Kadosh told Ynet. “When we heard of the disaster it was very natural that we would stand by the family at a time when they need us. The parents were pro-Israel activists. Now Israel is returning the favour.”

The story of the Berrys has also reached members of the local community in Houston, including celebrities and athletes. On July 18, Houston Astros outfielder and two time MLB All-Star, Hunter Pence made a trip to the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to visit the Berry children.

Pence had just returned from the MLB All-Star festivities in Phoenix, Arizona and spent time in both boys’ rooms. He offered them words of encouragement and brought each of the three children autographed baseball bats.

“I believe strongly that you’re going to be able to pull through this,” Pence said to Aaron. “You’re an inspiration to a lot of people. We’re all looking up to you. You fight to get better and find a way to overcome this. There’s a lot of people praying for you, including me.”

During his time with Peter, Pence played Xbox with the boy for over half an hour and even exchanged emails with him.

“Everyone’s thoughts are with you guys. You’re going through one of the toughest things and you’re going to need to be stronger than anyone I’ve ever met. I think that you and your whole family are going to inspire a lot of people. And ultimately, I look up to you,” Pence told Peter.

“I wish you the best of luck and I want you to keep that motivation your whole life. Everyone’s got your back – the whole community – you have so many people supporting you. There’s a lot of love. Every day, believe that you’re going to get better.”

Pence later reflected on the time he spent with the two boys.

“I’m fortunate to be able to meet these kids,” he told the Jewish Herald Voice. “I want these kids to grow up as kids should grow up. They’re tasked with a tougher path than a lot of us, but they also have the opportunity to inspire a lot of people and they need to know that.”

To help raise money for the family and support the Joshua and Robin Berry Children’s Trust, please visit http://www.theberrychildren.org.

For Large Donations, questions or comments please email admin@theberrychildren.org. The charity can be found on Twitter at @BerryChildren.

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