NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Despite grey skies and a drizzle in the air, around 400 superheroes gathered on Pioneer Drive to participate in the NPEF fourth annual Strides for Education Hero 5K and Fun Run last Sunday. 

Runners dressed as their favorite heroes and ran the race with the goal of raising funds for education for all four New Providence public schools. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Miceli was at the finish line of the USATF registered race cheering on the participants that included many students, parents, teachers, coaches, board of education member Adam Smith and high school principal Lauren Zirpoli, who finished with an impressive time.

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Miceli credits the success of the race to the value the NPEF brings to the community. "The money [raised] goes directly into the classrooms," said Miceli. "It is always nice to have supplemental dollars to support the initiatives that are taking place in the district," he said. "I can't say enough about their effort to be able to provide us with the dollars to support the [teacher initiated] grants" that align with the NPEF initiative. Grants have helped to support technology, curricular initiatives, resources and the International Festival which brings the community together, said Miceli.

Eric Weiss of Long Island City, NY finished first in 17:35.00, followed by last year's winner, 14 year old Jack Ryan of Chatham, in 17:48.32 and Alex Meyer of Glen Ridge in 18:06.81. Lily Sieczka (13 years old) of Berkeley Heights  was the first female to finish in 22:24.41, followed by Hannah Ocello (12 years old) of New Providence in 22:37.03 in second and Keri Calabrese of Bound Brook in third in 23:05.97.  Among the race finishers was 79 year old Maddalena  Falco of North Bergen, who won third place for women 60 and over. Falco is the mother of Allen W. Roberts School Assistant Principal Anna Rita Falco.

After medals were awarded to the top three finishers in each age group, hundreds of kids participated in a fun run that took place at the track along with games and face painting.

With the approximately 400 runners participating, the 5K's success is due to the hard work of the NPEF volunteers and many event sponsors, who were represented in the sponsor tent. (Visit the NPEF website for full list of sponsors.)

About NPEF: The members of NPEF and their supporters raise and distribute money for the schools each and every year. These grants are teacher-initiated, help supplement existing programs, and provide for new and innovative efforts, many of which would not otherwise be funded.  Due to the community and local business generosity, over the past year, the NPEF was able to award grants totaling $70,348.50, which benefited all of the schools in the New Providence school district. Since its inception in 2004, the NPEF has raised over $700,000 to support their teachers, students, and the entire school district.  This could not have been achieved without the hard work of the volunteers who donate their time to the foundation, and the generous financial support from corporate sponsors, many local businesses and families. Their success is dependent upon this support.