Giving Back

NJ Sharing Network’s Celebration of Life 5K Brings Thousands to New Providence to Raise Awareness for Organ and Tissue Donation

Team Ava from New Providence Credits: Marina Kennedy
Volunteer Check-in  (L to R) Clare, Veronica, Samantha, Elizabeth Credits: Marina Kennedy
Team Luli Credits: Marina Kennedy
Team Courtney Dayback Credits: Marina Kennedy
Former Chairperson Donna Albanese-Demair and husband Rich Credits: Marina Kennedy
Team RWJ Credits: Marina Kennedy
Team Magnet Mailers Credits: Marina Kennedy
Team "Live Like BJ" Credits: Marina Kennedy
Daryl, Suzanne and Megan Forster Credits: Marina Kennedy
Tessa and Tyler Sharpe of Swedesboro Credits: Marina Kennedy
 Team A for Angela Bongiovi of South River Credits: Marina Kennedy
Volunteers at the Main Stage Credits: Marina Kennedy

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Bright blue, sunny skies welcomed thousands of runners, walkers and supporters of the NJ Sharing Network in New Providence for their event, “Celebration of Life” to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. It included a USATF 5K Race at 8:30 am and a 5K walk at 10:00 am.  The NJ Sharing Network grounds, located at 691 Central Avenue, were set up with a Sponsor Village, Main Stage, and a Children’s Area.  Over 300 volunteers were instrumental in making the event a success along with local business support, including the New Providence Business & Professional Association, and corporate sponsors.

Elise Glennon, NJ Sharing Network’s Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer and the Executive Director of NJ Sharing Network Foundation, said, “There are so many heartwarming stories from the families and individuals involved in our 5K. Their lives have been truly transformed through giving.” 

This year the 5K Celebration of Life expanded to two locations, a 5K Walk at Bergen Community College in Paramus on April 12th and the New Providence USATF Race and 5K Walk. To date the NJ Sharing Network Foundation has raised more than $650,000 in individual contributions and sponsorships for the 5K Celebration of Life.

Sign Up for E-News

Christine O’Neill of New Providence lost her son John O’Neill in October 2001.  At the time, he was playing football at New Providence High School.  Christine volunteered in the tent where John’s picture and his team number 31 were part of a quilt honoring donors.  The memory quilts are displayed “To Remember, To Honor, To Give Hope.”  Christine said, “A donor is a gift of life to many people.”  She added,  “John changed a lot of peoples’ lives.”   

Running and walking teams comprised of friends and relatives were formed to honor donors and recipients.  Individuals and businesses also participated in the event.  John Salaki was the Team Captain for Magnet Mailers of Hillsborough.  Magnet Mailers had 10 members and this was the second time the company participated.  Salaki said, “I feel great about the race.  This is perfect weather.”

Robert Wood Johnson, a “Gold Sponsor” of the Celebration of Life, had a total of 25 participants in the run and the walk.  Rosalia Cerrato-Perotta said that the employees were very enthusiastic and the group included RWJ executives.

“Team Luli” from Bogota, New Jersey had 14 members that included children.  Lourdes (nicknamed Luli) Taveras received a liver transplant three years ago and she was proud to be part of her team.

“Team Marlboro High School” had 122 participants.  Marlboro student Blake Rogolsky started a club at her school after her father, Alan, had a heart transplant four years ago.  She works to raise the awareness of tissue and organ donation for her peers.

Caitlin English said that her high school sweetheart, BJ Giannone, had a heart condition and passed away at a swim meet when he was a student at Sr. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City.  The team “Live like BJ” had over 60 people who were both walking and running on Sunday.

Suzanne Forster (nicknamed Ava) was on the New Providence EMS for 12 years.  She had a kidney transplant on May 12th.  Members of the New Providence EMS were supporting the cause of organ and tissue donation by forming “Team Ava.”  Forster attended the event with her daughter, Megan, and husband, Daryl.  She said,  “Organ donations really do make a difference in life.”

“Team Courtney Dayback” is from the Holmdel area.  They had 32 runners and walkers who were proud to honor Courtney who passed away at age 19.  Her organ and tissue donations saved seven lives.

Greg T., a DJ from Z100, was at the Celebration of Life for the fifth year and said that his wife was an organ donor. Just before the race he told the crowd of over 1,700 runners,  “This is a spectacular morning.”  He added, “Run, be safe, hug each other and be part of this fantastic day.”  The runners were led and paced by the NJ Sharing Network’s own cycling team.

At 9:30 am there were Race Awards and a program which featured speakers including Mayor Al Morgan, Joe Roth, the President and CEO of the NJ Sharing Network, and Frank D’Amelio, Executive VP of Business Operations and CFO of Pfizer, Inc. which was the Presenting Sponsor.

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.  The NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to increasing the number of lives saved through education, research, donor family support and public awareness about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.  One organ and tissue donor can save up to 8 lives and restore health to 50 others and more than 120,000 people nationwide are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.  For more information and to register to be a donor, visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


County of Union to Fly Rainbow Flag for the First Time on June 4

May 24, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - A rainbow flag will fly for the first time at the Union County Courthouse in recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced they are holding a public Pride Flag Raising Ceremony for Monday, June 4 at 1 p.m. on the steps of the historic Union County Courthouse on Broad Street in Elizabeth.

“Raising the rainbow flag ...

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that was ...

Free Family Movie Night at Hanson Park featuring the Movie Coco

May 26, 2018

Bring your blankets and chairs and join us for a Movie in the Park on Saturday, July 14th at Hanson Park, 38 Springfield Ave. in Cranford.  The feature presentation will be Coco, a 2017 animated fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera who is accidentally transported ...

Cranford Police Blotter: DWI Arrest & More

May 22, 2018

The information provided does not represent the total scope of police activity. Individuals charged as a result of police investigations are merely an accusation. All defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

1. 05/17/2018 @ 2012 hrs.

North Avenue East and the Garden State Parkway 137 Exchange

Arrested: Charles McKoy, 19, North Plainfield

Arrested by: Ptl. James ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 1, 8:00 AM

Royce Brook Golf Club, Hillsborough Township

Liam's Room 5th Annual Charity Golf Outing

Giving Back Sports


Fri, June 1, 5:00 PM

Cranford Elks, Cranford

Spaghetti Dinner and Tricky Tray to Benefit Relay ...

Food & Drink

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

I'm Excited To See What Sara Todisco Will Do As Mayor.

May 25, 2018

My first time hearing the name Sara Todisco was when reading about her in a newspaper article during her first year on Council. A couple citizens made comments about her age and how they thought she was too young on an anonymous online forum. I responded that here was a young person eager to get involved in our town. We should give her a chance and if we weren't satisfied, we could ...