FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Even with the weather getting colder and colder, there are those who still wish to give back through the fun of running. And on November 23rd, Florham Park’s PBA Local 78 and Knights of Columbus Post 2248 came together for their fifth annual Turkey Trot 5K at Campus Park.

“We’re extremely for all the cooperation from our sponsors, the knights and police who do all the labor and for the Campus Park community for giving us the space,” said Sergio Bordenabe, chairman of the 5K and a past grand knight for Post 2248. “This Turkey Trot 5K is a fun run that is family-orientated. And thank God it’s not raining!

The Turkey Trot 5K has been a tradition and passion by both the PBA and Knights of Columbus to promote community fun and raise funds to charitable causes. This year, these charitable causes include not only the PBA and Knight of Columbus, but also Halos for Angels, a non-profit that provides relief to families following tragedies, the Park Avenue Club Foundation, a private dining and social club that provides space for community events, and Mallory’s Army Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable foundation that advocates anti-bullying.

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“Look around you,” said Rockaway Township resident Dianne Grossman, founder and trustee of Mallory’s Army  “The energy and the kids coming out in the cold and exercising makes me feel proud to not only be part of something bigger than us, but to honor our daughter and her life and legacy.”

Mallory’s Army was formed last year by Dianne and her husband Set Grossman when their 12-year-old Mallory killed herself because of serve social media bullying at her school. Since its then, Mallory’s Army has expanded into numerous counties including Morris, Somerset, Union, Passaic, and Essex. In recent months, the Grossmans have been advocating state legislate to pass new laws, which give police the ability to be involved in anti-bullying issues. And during the event, 10 of their own township kids participated in the 5K.

But the main recipient of the 5K was Girls on the Run (GOTR), a national, non-profit youth development program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, which often culminates in a celebratory 5K run.

“When our girls cross the finish line, we hope that it builds a confidence in them,” said Sydney Davis, GOTR executive director of the New Jersey chapter, from Chatham. “I’m inspired every time by them, by our volunteers, by our sponsors and the absolute magic of the day.”

This magic that Davis saw that Saturday morning even inspired her to stand along areas of the 3.2-mile route, high-fiving runners while dressed in a turkey costume.

This year’s Turkey Trot 5K marks Stein’s fourth season coaching her Girls on the Run team. There were as much as 700-800 girls participating from districts, such as Berkeley Heights, Caldwell, Cranford, East Hanover, Fanwood, Kinnelon, Livingston, Maplewood, and Montville.

“We are all super excited,” said Florham Park resident Meghan Stein, who coached a group of young runner at the 5K.  “It’s a celebration of our season, and this year, we have 10 girls who are anxious to run and cross the finish line.”

Indeed, many young girls were anxious to cross the finish line, whether it was for a great cause or just the fun of running.

“The 5K is good and I do it for the fun and the challenge,” said eight-year-old Wes Caldwell resident Grace Kaufman, who ran for the first time with her mother Taryn.

“Girls on the Run teaches me how to be kind with a lot of star power.”

Such star power fueled Grace and other fellow GOTR girls at the 5K. Newark resident Chelsea Smith was another young runner who put her best foot forward on the journey, while also celebrating her ninth birthday that very day.

“It’s really good to be running and spending time with my friends,” said Smith, who also runs track at her school.

“The Turkey Trot is the best thing ever because I get to be with my friends. Girls on the Run gave me confidence to express myself and to be on track field.”

At the end of the 5K, as music continued to pay from a hired DJ, and trophies were handed out, around $35,000 were collected for the charitable organizations.

“This Turkey Trot 5K has brought a lot of important organizations together and formed great bonds for more events,” said Charles Greenstein, race director and state delegate of Florham Park’s PBA.