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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The sun was shining bright for the Berkeley Heights 5K on Sunday when close to 400 participants took to the street in support of the 5K charity race that gives right back to the community.
Tom Lisofski, 28, of Berkeley Heights, finished first in 18:10.64; Owen Silver, 12, of New Providence placed second in 19:23.8. 13 year old Andrew Vilarin of Bernardsville placed third in 19:26.91. Jen Nitkowski, 39, was the first female to finish in 20.53.67, Julia Hyman, 13, of Mountainside finished second in 22:21.49 and Samantha Richter, 13, of Berkeley Heights finished third in 22:34.43.
In addition to the race, which included runners and walkers and a few of the smallest residents in strollers, kids participated in a Fun Run across the soccer field. Non-runners and families enjoyed the fun by participating in a 1.5-mile fitness walk, which wound through sections of the tree-lined residential 5K course.
For a complete list of winners, visit http://www.berkeleyheights5k.com.
A large crowd of participants and spectators gathered at Veterans Memorial Park for the awards ceremony with special 23rd Anniversary commemorative Lucite trophies and giveaways.
"Thanks for being here for the 23rd Annual Berkeley Heights 5K Charity Road race and Fitness Walk," said Dr. Patrick Smith, Race Chair. "A lot of people make this happen, we have a special award 2019 recipient of the BH5K Leadership Award for our very own IT specialist Sharon."
Every dollar raised goes to charitable grants reaching about $250,000. Click here to see who have been past recipients. Dr. Smith presented Tiffany Escott, Executive Director from the Berkeley Heights YMCA a check for $2,500. This is part of a 4 year pledge to help in the building of the new YMCA.
Escott thanked Dr. Smith. "The community has been supportive of the new Y that is coming into town. The goal is to be open in January 2020." She said, despite rumors going around, the pool will be open for summer of 2020.
Dr. Smith also presented a check for $2,500 to the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation. "We believe in enrichment, education and making kids make it happen for all of us, as part of our continuing partnership with the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation, we are giving them another $2,500 this year so they can make it happen here in town," said Dr. Smith.
"All of the money goes directly back to the six school in Berkeley Heights in the form of grants and gifts and programs, so thank you very much," said Berkeley Heights Education Foundation President Elizabeth Kane.
While it's not in Smith's nature to ask for help, he had tremendous support from the community through race sponsorships and volunteers from the Berkeley Heights Fire Department and Rescue Squad, DPW, VFW Post 6259, Recreation Director Tom Barton, Investors Bank, Taylor Rental and many friends and family. The Berkeley Heights Police Department also had a presence at the race.
"I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. this is a lot of work, a lot of love -- love for everybody. We hope to see you back here for the 24th annual which will be bigger and better," said Dr. Smith.
The awards were then handed to the overall winners, and then female and male winners in each of the age categories.
The field behind Veterans Memorial Park was set up with a sponsor village of local businesses greeting the participants with raffle prizes and give aways from Pearly Whites, Massage Envy, Goodman's, Delicious Heights, Liberty Group and Berkeley Aquatic Club. Dr. Patrick Smith also gave away two iPad minis. Click here for full list of sponsors.
The Berkeley Heights Charity Road Race and Fitness Walk was established in 1996 to help lend support to non-profit organizations. It is sanctioned by the USA Track and Field Association and is a 500-point race in the New Balance New Jersey Grand Prix Series.