BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Morning showers and high humidity did not deter runners from competing in the ninth annual Amber Pizzo Memorial 5K on Sunday at Memorial Field. The on-and-off rain stopped for good shortly before the race began at 9:30 a.m. and, with the "Rocky" theme song blaring from the DJ speakers, the runners were on their way. The fitness walk started right after with participants walking one mile of the course.
Michael Soroko of Bridgewater was the first to cross the finish line, clocking in with a time of 16:05. Not far behind him was the top female finisher, Laura Kapilow of Berkeley Heights, who finished with a time of 20:07.
The race is run in memory of Amber Pizzo, a young teacher who was killed by a drunk driver in July 2005. The Amber Pizzo Foundation was set up soon after with the message “to have people stop and think about getting in the car if they’ve been drinking”, as said by Amber’s sister and event organizer, Heather Pizzo.
The money raised through the 5K is used to fund the Amber Pizzo Memorial Foundation scholarship, which is presented to a graduating senior at Governor Livingston who is going into elementary education or early childhood development. The Foundation also sponsors a PSA contest amongst Union County high schools in which students develop short commercials against underage drinking. George Pizzo, Amber’s dad and the event director, said, “We raised $25,000 the first year (of the race), and we’ve raised about $5,000 every year since then.”
After the race, there was a “kids sprint” on the field for children ages 2-7. The Governor Livingston track team was on hand to assist this race.
Throughout the morning, there were vendors on the field, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Pete’s Place, Smith Chiropractic, STOP!T, Weisman Wellness, and Rita’s Ice. There were also various activities going on, such as a dunk tank, blow up slide, sand art, face painting, a train, a raffle and a silent auction.
For more information regarding the Amber Pizzo Memorial Foundation, please visit www.amberpizzo.com.