WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Nikhil Badlani Foundation held its third annual Walk/Run for Nikhil at West Orange High School on a cool, sunny Sunday morning. More than 600 participants registered and raised nearly $45,000 for the foundation and its efforts to provide education about traffic safety awareness, music scholarships and music lessons for West Orange students.
The environment was positive and upbeat as emcee Marci Selsberg made announcements and kept the crowd apprised of information. Various organizations were present to provide information. In addition, Drive Safer was present to provide kids the opportunity to ride their kiddie cars and show their "Skid Car" in action. The Skid Car is available around the area to help drivers, especially younger drivers aged 15-24, by allowing them to experience skidding and panic scenarios while driving.
“Drive Safer is proud to be a part of the 3rd Annual Stop for Nikhil event,” says Jason Friedman, chief executive officer of Drive Safer. “Traffic safety awareness is so important, and tragedies such as what happened to Nikhil can only be avoided through awareness and knowledge. We will continue to do whatever we can to help save lives.”
The ceremony began around 9 a.m. as Nikhil Badlani's Boy Scout Troop led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Nikhil would have been a freshman at WOHS this year, and Principal Hayden Moore and Athletic Director Ron Bligh were in attendance to honor Nikhil's memory.
Nikhil's brother Anay led the participants in a Pledge against distracted driving, and Sunil and Sangeeta Badlani, Nikhil's parents, welcomed everyone and updated the crowd on the Foundation's activities over the past year. They then presented the Nikhil Badlani Foundation's Inspirational Award to Gabe Hurley, a young man whose life was forever changed by a distracted driver.
The Badlanis introduced Mayor Parisi, who welcomed Commissioner for the NJ State Department of Transportation James Simpson. Simpson noted that "50 percent of commuters text while driving" and that a study of accidents on the Garden State Parkway showed that all accidents over a three month period "from Friday at 9 p.m. to Sunday at 5 a.m." involved males between the ages of 17-28."
Simpson then cut the ribbon for the start of the race, which began and ended on the track of WOHS.
The Foundation is accepting donations untitil Oct. 31. Go to www.stopfornikhil.org to donate and learn more about the organization.