WEST ORANGE, NJ - (Editor's Note: Kimberly Fitzgerald DeMeo is a Language Arts Teacher at Liberty Middle School and was the Alternative Press' Guest Correspondent for this event. Kim is also the author of a children's book on In Vitro Fertilization and Egg Donation, entitled "One Little Egg.)
On Saturday, May 3, Liberty Middle School held its first Annual, Fun Run, organized by assistant principal, Ms. Aixa Garcia. The event was held on the LMS grounds and attended by students, parents, staff and various supporters, including Mayor Robert Parisi and his wife Sheila. Principal Bob Klemt was also in attendance with his daughter Danielle. Dressed in full running gear, Principal Klemt was strong competition for the track team, but was no match for students Ebezie Anuamadi and Alina Chant, who came in first and second place.
It was a perfect morning for the Fun Run, which began with thanks from Ms. Garcia, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Star Spangled Banner sung by student Tyreek Voltaire. With the whistle's blow the runners were off. The first round was led by Coach Bill Dowd and the LMS track team. Valerie Gino, also a track coach, assisted on the sidelines and at the Finish Line.
Once the runners sprinted ahead, the walkers took to the course. Men, women and children of all ages, including babies in strollers, enjoyed the weather and the exercise. All participants wore red tee-shirts with an official Fun Run logo designed by LMS art teacher Lisette Villalobos. The running organization, Latinas in Motion, also came out to participate and support the event.
Volunteers stood along the course and sidelines offering information, water and support, holding signs and cheering participants on. The West Orange First Aid Squad was on site along with several of the event sponsors: Whole Foods, Shoprite, Chipotle, Retro Fitness, Watchung Booksellers, Argyle, Elements Massage and Fleet Feet Sports.
The atmosphere was festive as music played, the sun shone, and the breezes blew. The monies raised will go towards the Liberty Middle School Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to a future graduate of LMS.
The event would not have been possible without Ms. Garcia, who organized the school's first Fun Run to benefit not only a future student but encourage current students to share her passion for health and physical fitness. This is Ms. Garcia's third year at Liberty, and and in this short time she has become an inspiration to her students, parents, teachers, and administrators. In addition to the Fun Run, Aixa started a "Biggest Loser" challenge with the staff, and the 15 or so that have participated have already lost between five and thirty pounds over the last three months.
The enitre community can look forward to next year's run and all the great things to come from the Liberty Middle School family.