WESTFIELD, NJ — Registration is open for the 2nd annual Greta’s Run, a 5K fundraiser for special needs programs at the Westfield Area Y in memory of Westfield High School Student Greta Schoenemann, who died in 2002. To register, click here.
Last September, 900 runners, walkers and rollers and 200 volunteers took part in the event. Greta’s friends flew in from 12 states and Germany to participate, and donations came from all over the United States, Europe and Canada, according to Co-Founder Ben Nanna.
This year Nanna, who has just been made the Y’s assistant program director, special programs & events, hopes that at least 1,000 people will register for the community day of fun on Sept. 14 that will include refreshments, awards, prizes and a special live performance of the National Anthem.
“All of the proceeds go to new and existing programs for young adults with special needs,” said Nanna. “There’s a real need for this, because people in this age group usually age out of existing programs.”
This summer, a program sampler gauged the community’s needs. Greta’s sister Elise Schoenemann, who has cerebral palsy, was one of its participants.
“Everyone who participated loved it,” said Nanna. “Participants and volunteers came from all of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”
Now Nanna will focus on transitioning the success of the sampler into long-term programming, starting with the Dragonfly Swim Program for young adults, which will launch in the coming year. This will be a partner program to the Y’s existing Rainbow Fish program for children ages three to 12 with special needs.
“For people like my cousin and Elise, who are both in wheelchairs, swimming is an opportunity to be at eye-level with peers. Swimming is an incredible equalizer,” Nanna said.
More programs will gradually be added.
Although Greta's Run is an important fundraiser, Nanna hopes the real focus of the day will be community. Already, teams are forming and friends and neighbors are getting ready to come together at the Westfield Area Y Sept. 14.
TAP into Westfield is a proud sponsor of Greta’s Run.