UNION, NJ -  About 125 participants turned out Saturday, April 21, for THE MAX Challenge of Union, New Providence, Cranford, Watchung, Montclair and Madison Day of Giving 5K. The event, both a run and a walk, was a benefit for the Hope For Lauren Foundation. 

Lauren Liu, 14, and a ninth grade student at Kent Place School, died in October 2017, after losing a battle against depression few, if any, people knew she was fighting. Her parents, James and Helen, started the Hope for Lauren Foundation immediately after her death, to help bring awareness of an illness that is often stigmatized. In her obituary, her parents wrote, "In light of Lauren’s battle with depression and the sadness left in its wake, the Liu family has created the Hope for Lauren Foundation, dedicated to supporting children who are suffering from depression and mental illness, funding clinical and biomedical research for depression, raising awareness for suicide prevention, and supporting families who are suicide survivors." 

Manager of the New Providence THE MAX Challenge Sara Kirsch read a note from Mr. Liu to the crowd, as they gathered under sunny skies at the Union High School Football field. 

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After warming up, the crowd headed to the starting line of the 5K, not too far from Morris Avenue, and when everyone was set, the race began with a wave of a very large flag, and the cry of "Ready, Set, Go," from the starter, and they were off.

As of Monday afternoon, a counter on a donation page for those not participating in the race or who want to make a donation beyond the registration fee, had raised $7,067 for the foundation.

Members of the Union Township Police Department were on hand to keep runners and walkers safe as they ran or walked on the streets of Union.