WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 1,100 people of all ages and abilities participated in the third annual Greta’s Run Sunday, a fundraiser for the Westfield Area Y’s Dragonfly Program, which offers fitness, recreation and social opportunities for young adults with special needs. In addition, about 200 people volunteered to help make the event a success.
“We’r really happy with the turnout. We get more participants every year,” said Greta’s Run co-founder Jayne Routolo. “We’re really pleased with the programming that Greta’s Run has sponsored. It’s a population that has less opportunity to do recreational programming.”
Greta’s Run is named for Greta Schoenemann, who died in 2002 while she was a freshman at Westfield High School. In addition to members of the community, people who had been friends with Schoenemann came from as far away as Colorado, Vermont and Washington, DC, to participate, Routolo said.
“The success of this event is a testament to Greta’s kindness and spirit. Everyone who came into contact with her couldn’t help but love her,” Routolo said. “I think it’s not a coincidence that we’ve had perfect weather all three years.”
Among the sponsors of the race were the Lady Blue Devils soccer team, who raised almost $8,000. The Fallig-Hubabard wedding, co-founder Ben Nanna explained, donated $2,000 in lieu of party favors.
To everyone who played a part in Greta’s Run, Nanna said, “We’ve started a whole bunch of classes, and you’re the reason we’ve been able to do this.”
The 5K began with athletes from The Challenged Athletes Foundation, who use hand cycles to race. Following them were runners, walkers, rollers and young children in strollers.
Michele Coyne registered to run with her 73-year-old father and 14-year-old daughter. This was the third Greta’s Run for her, and the second for her family members.
“My father and I have run many races together in the last few years. My family are long-time members of the Westfield Y and my daughter was a member of the Westfield Y Aquaducks for seven years. We really support the mission of Greta’s Run,” Coyne said. She noted, “The energy and enthusiasm at the start are amazing.”
Before the race began, the crowd was treated to performances by singer Blossom and the Central Jersey Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.
Jersey Mike’s, The Juice House, Trader Joe’s and Kings Supermarkets provided food and drinks at the finish line. Afterward, the Official Greta’s Run After Party was held at The Office Beer Bar & Grill, with proceeds to benefit Greta’s Run.