NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – One of this town’s biggest annual events is its 5K Celebration of Life. It’s when thousands of walkers, runners and volunteers honor those who gave the gift of life, pay tribute to those who have received a transplant, offer hope to those currently waiting for a transplant and remember those who passed away while waiting for the gift.

It is organized by NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents.

Among those participating this year will be Annandale’s Steve Caputo. He received a heart transplant in December and has become very involved with the Network.

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Caputo has organized a group to participate in the walk, and calls it Team “Steve is the Tin Man.”

The organization’s flagship event is on Sunday, June 2 at NJ Sharing Network’s headquarters, located at 691 Central Ave. here. It includes a 5K Walk and USATF Certified Race.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30 and the walk steps off at 10.

Participants can expect a day of music, dancing, food trucks, kids’ activities, sponsor giveaways and countless human interest stories attesting to the power of organ and tissue donation.

Attendees may see the families of organ and tissue donors embracing transplant recipients, living kidney donors walking alongside the person whose life they saved, teams rallying around a community member currently waiting for a transplant, and others showing their support for a worthy cause.

“The 5K Celebration of Life events bring together donor families, transplant recipients, those waiting for a transplant, volunteers, sponsors and partners, all of whom play an integral role in making our life-saving mission possible,” said NJ Sharing Network President and CEO Joe Roth. “The sheer volume of support, compassion and dedication is palpable as our teams walk and run to celebrate the gift of life.” 

Through the 5K Celebration of Life, NJ Sharing Network’s Foundation hopes to raise $1.25 million to increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

Last year, 678 life-saving transplants were made possible, 537 from deceased donors and an additional 141 from living donors.

Today, there are nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents awaiting a life-saving transplant. Every day, approximately three people are added to the New Jersey waiting list, and one person dies every three days while waiting for a transplant.

One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can restore health to more than 75 people. New Jersey residents can help save lives by registering as organ and tissue donors, having a conversation with family and friends and getting involved at NJSharingNetwork.org.