NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - More than 300 teams with thousands of participants participated in the fourth annual NJ Sharing Network 5K Walk/Race on Sunday morning under sunny skies in New Providence.
This 5K Walk and USATF Certified Race is the largest fundraiser of the year for the organization. Its theme, “To Remember. To Honor. To Give Hope," was realized by everyone who came out and supported the event.
NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Walk/Race was presented by Pfizer and hosted in cooperation with the New Providence Business Community along with a large group of generous sponsors. There were also community volunteers from across the state that assisted with many areas of the event including race-day registration.
Joe Roth, president and chief executive officer of NJ Sharing Network, said, “This is our fourth 5K and I am so inspired to see how our dedicated volunteers and supporters have enabled this event to grow so much. While it is a fun-filled day, the mission behind this fundraiser is critical. We want to do everything we can to help eliminate the transplant waiting list.”
Elisse Glennon, executive director of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation, said, “The 5K helps raise funds to support education, donor families, research and public awareness about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation. The event also enables us to remember and honor those touched by transplantation, and to spread awareness about the life-saving and life-restoring gift of organ and tissue donation.
"Each race team has an important story. Some teams participate to honor the legacy of someone who died and gave the gift of organs and tissue. Others will walk or race to remember those who died while waiting for an organ. Some teams participate to offer hope for someone currently waiting for an organ or a tissue, while many organ recipients celebrate their second chance at life."
There was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm in the crowd on Sunday. Isabel DeLeon, captain of Team Deleon from Jersey City, said that she was “very excited.”
Barbara Denike of New Providence, a teacher at Salt Brook Elementary School who was participating for the second year with her daughters Katie and Becky with the “Miles for Maddie” team, said, “It’s a great organization, a wonderful event and a fabulous cause.”
Sandi Korn of Team “Korn Pini” was participating along with her grandsons and a team of 15 people from throughout New Jersey. Korn’s husband had received a kidney donation in 2003 which extended his life by five years.
Dan Sarnowski and Sally Apgar were part of the team, “Betsy’s Dash.” They said they admired the display of quilts and the picture squares that honored the memory of many individuals including Apgar's sister, Betsy Niles, for whom the team is named. Sarnowski said that Betsy was “the love of my life.” The team has been participating in the event for four years and has over 40 participants with 120 contributors. This year, they were proud to reach their financial goal.
Greg T. of Z100 came to the event with his wife and daughters. He participated in the race and spoke to the crowd just before the start thanking everyone involved for their enthusiasm and generous support.
Donna Albanese, co-chair of this year’s race, also addressed the crowd prior to the start. Albanese had donated a kidney to her mother 12 years earlier and her mother is currently in her late 80s. She said that her team, “Team Dairy Queen” is celebrating life.
“Team Courtney” was at the race starting line. Their T-shirts displayed the message, “organ donation is not a tragedy but it can be a beautiful light in the midst of one.”
Statewide there were 37 bone donors, 392 skin donors and 756 corneas recovered resulting in thousands of lives enhanced and physical functions restored. Also in 2013, NJ Sharing Network, one of 58 organ procurement organizations in the United States, was able to coordinate the recovery and placement of 433 donated organs last year, up from 378 in 2012.
NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally designated organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for New Jersey residents in need of life-saving transplants. NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to supporting the work of NJ Sharing Network. For more information about the network, visit its web site at www.NJSharingNetwork.org or call their New Providence office at (908) 516-5400.