Crowdfunding Helps Israeli Fitness Guru Fighting Cancer

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Rella Itin, popular Israeli-Australian fitness instructor, with children and husband.
Rella Itin, popular Israeli-Australian fitness instructor, with children and husband. Credit: Courtesy
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

A campaign to assist a popular Israeli-Australian fitness instructor diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer has gone viral in recent days, with support pouring in from around the globe.

Rella Itin, a 37-year-old mother of two small children, is the founder of the fitness company Boot Camp Israel and a personal trainer. Since receiving her diagnosis in March, the widely admired coach and fitness guru has been unable to work. 

A screenshot of the crowdfunding campaign for Rella Itin, an Israeli-Australian fitness instructor diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Credit: Help Rella Fight Brain Cancer

The crowd-funding campaign aims to provide Itin and her family with much-needed financial support as she undergoes treatment. Since it went live on Sunday, organizers report that more than 500 donations have poured in from Israel, the United States, Australia, Britain, South Africa and Canada. While the goal of the campaign was to raise 20,000 shekels, that amount has already been exceeded, with donations coming in “every few minutes” during the first day alone, they say.

Most of Itin’s friends, acquaintances and former trainees had not been aware of her condition until the campaign was launched.

In addition to raising money, the “Help Rella Fight Brain Cancer” campaign is organizing a special boot camp event in her honor on June 2 to help boost her morale. More than 200 people have already registered. The plan is to film the event so that she can watch it afterward.

In a 2012 profile of Itin, Haaretz correspondent Danna Harman crowned her “the undisputed queen of the boot camp scene here.” Born in Israel to Russian immigrant parents, Itin moved to Australia when she was a baby. After moving back to Israel in 2003, she worked in finance before deciding to turn her passion for fitness into a full-time career. 

For seven years, Itin ran boot camp classes in Tel Aviv and Ra’anana. Particularly popular among the English-speaking crowd, they were also well attended by native Israelis.

The crowd-funding campaign was organized by two friends who trained with Itin regularly: Ruth Orkin, a British-born doctor, and Ori Lachmi, a Tel Aviv-based actor.

In their fundraising appeal, the organizers note that “Rella has helped hundreds of people become fitter, healthier and happier through her revolutionary style of boot camp. Her boundless energy, positivity and enthusiasm and her genuine desire to improve people's lives are what makes her a born coach, as anyone who ever signed up to Boot Camp Israel will testify.“

They encourage those who can help to “come together now to give back some of that pure goodness to our dear friend and coach.” 

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