SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  - Blue skies and sunshine blessed the participants of Holy Savior’s 7th Annual 5k and 1-Mile Family Fun Walk on Saturday June 2nd as over 150 people took part in the event to raise funds for Holy Savior Academy, located at 149 South Plainfield Avenue in South Plainfield.

“Holy Savior Academy is truly part of the South Plainfield community, from participating in the Labor Day parade, to conducting this race and inviting our neighbors to participate,”  said Doreen Pustizzi, Chair of the event.  “It means a lot to the children to see not only their parents supporting them, but also the community - including the local police and the mayor.”

Sixty-four runners took off through the parking lot of Holy Savior School, passing Sacred Heart Church at approximately 9am Saturday morning, followed by the walkers of the 1-Mile Family Fun Walk. 

Sign Up for E-News

“My kids are both running in the 5k,” said parent Claire Corry before the race.  “One’s 15 and the other is 11.  They’re feeling pretty good.  They’ve run since the event started and every year they increase their times and they have a lot of fun.  It’s a great way for them to spend time with their friends and raise some money for the school.  It’s just a wonderful day.”

The Chioco family has three children who attend Holy Savior and are in the seventh, third, and first grades.

“We are all participating in the 5k Run today,”  said Butch Chioco.  “It’s a memory for me and for the kids when they grow up.”

Funds raised at the annual event will go to the many academic programs and extracurricular activities that Holy Savior offers the students to support athletic, creative and educational programs for the children.  Holy Savior Academy is an AdvanceED, accredited Middlebrook Deanery Catholic School serving students in pre-K 3 through 8th grade.  Fundraisers like these help to support the athletic department, after school clubs, the music program, drama club, chess club, STEM labs, and much more as everything raised goes to enhance the students’ education.

The South Plainfield Police Department blocked off streets surrounding the school and along the path of the USA Track and Field certified 5K course mapped out for the event.  The 3.12 mile route began on Randolph Avenue, onto Oakland Avenue, up South Plainfield Avenue, then up and down side streets and back down South Plainfield Avenue to the front of Holy Savior Academy’s finish line where the race began.

“The event is run by a volunteer committee of five with the support of the school's Family School Partnership organization, the school's Principal Mrs. Carol Woodburn and the Parish of Sacred Heart,” said Pustizzi.

Along with Pustizzi and Woodburn, Nicola Barrett is the Donation Coordinator for the event, Jim Corry handles logistics and route coordination, Debbie Metz is the Volunteer Coordinator, Debbie Boyle the liaison for the South Plainfield Business Association and Melodie Sidun is the President of Family School Partnership. 

“South Plainfield is such a great community,” said Woodburn.  “I’m so grateful for everyone’s participation.”

The winner of the 5K Race was 15-year-old Keith Lehman.  A sophomore at South Plainfield High School, Lehman crossed the finish line with a time of 18:47.  The top 1st place female winner, coming in at 23:37, was 13-year-old Ashlynn Lehman, 7th grade student at the South Plainfield Middle School.

“It was a great race for a great cause!” said Keith Lehman after the race.

Also placing in the top three male 5k participants was 14-year-old Christopher Manzano of Warren with a time of 20:34, and 57-year-old Rich Szeliga of South Plainfield with a time of 22:42.

Placing 2nd and 3rd for the female participants was 50-year-old Lisa Calicchio of Warren with a time of 27:51, and 33-year-old Nicole Esposito of South Plainfield with a time of 27:57.

Several young runners participated and placed in their Age Categories.  Among the 14 and under male runners, Christopher Manzano, age 14 with a time of 20:34, came in 1st.  Jackson Gaffney, age 13 of South Plainfield, placed 2nd with a time of 25:42.  And Timothy Figueiredo, age 14 of South Plainfield, came in 3rd with a time of 25:44. 

Of the 14 and Under Female Category, Ashlynn Lehman came in 1st as the overall female winner and the winner of the 14 and Under Category.  Twelve-year-old Maiti O’Connor of South Plainfield, came in 2nd with a time of 37:35.  And 9-year-old Ebony Turner of Plainfield came in 3rd with a time of 41:35.

Of the 15-19 year old males participants, Keith Lehman placed 1st in this category as well as in the overall race.  South Plainfield’s Samuel Corry, age 15, placed 2nd, with a time of 26:15.

“We were completely amazed at our children today,” said Marybeth Parache, whose children attend Holy Savior.  “They continue to surprise us with their accomplishments.  Both my 6-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son completed the 5k.  They wanted to do it with their friends. This school has always focused on family events and this one delivered the same commitment.”

Several adult male runners came in 1st in their Age Category including: Sal Gugliano, of the 30-39 age group, with a time of 44:51, Eric Villanueva, of the 40-49 age group, with a time of 24:47, Rich Szeliga, of the 50-59 age group, with a time of 22:42, Mark Guberman of the 60-69 age group with a time of 27:49, and Greg Blessing, of the 70-79 age group, with a time of 55:02.

The female runners who placed 1st in their Age Categories were: Nicole Esposito, of the 30-39 age group and also took 3rd place overall in the race, Michelle Adlassnig of the 40-49 age group with a time of 33:27, Lisa Calicchio of the 50-59 age group and also took 2nd place in the race overall,  Debbie McGrane of the 60-69 age group with a time of 36:16.

The Holy Savior 5k and Family Fun Run had many generous sponsors to help make the event possible.  Gold Sponsor of the event was 9 Round, a 30 minute kickboxing circuit training facility opening in the Hadley Center next month.

“We’re very excited to be in the community and to come out here and support a good cause such as this,” said Loroine Mcknight, owner of 9 Round.  “It’s about the kids and the community.  It’s all about family, so we’re very excited to support something like this.”

Silver sponsors of the event included: TAPinto South Plainfield, McCriskin-Gustafson Family Funeral Home, and Health & Fitness Professionals.  Bronze Sponsors were: R & C Auto Body, Butler Printing, Cornerstone Architectural Group LLC, and Jack Pederson Realty - Realtor Marjorie Reedy.  Supporting Sponsors were: Pinot’s Palette, The Boyle Memorial Foundation, Investor’s Bank, Retro Fitness, The Bagel Pantry, GoGo Squeez, Rebounderz, Shoprite, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“I think it went really well,” said Pustizzi.  “It turned out to be a beautiful morning and we had a lot of walk-ups.  The kids had a lot of fun and that’s really important.”

If interested in finding out about more fundraising opportunities at Holy Savior Academy, contact the school at 908-822-5890.  Currently, a fundraiser is underway to provide the award-winning Holy Savior Academy Cheerleading Squad much needed equipment, such as new tumble mats and sound equipment.  Last year, the squad took 1st place in the Catholic Cheerleading Coaches Association of New Jersey in the Bitty division and the equipment will help the team advance to new levels and continue to grow in their skills as athletes.