LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Singac Fire Company Firefighters held their first ever 5K Run and family fun walk on Sunday morning. The event commenced at the outdoor track of Passaic Valley High School with over 150 participants who came out on a cool spring morning for a great cause.
The event's proceeds will benefit local resident Anthony Englehardt. The Passaic Valley High School sophomore and volunteer firefighter is currently battling Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Participants who took part in the 5K run donated $35, and those who walked contributed $20. The race, which raised over $4,000, is being planned as an annual event.
According to Mike Burke, president of Singac Fire Company 3, the goal was to try and do more for the community by getting the fire department involved so all three presidents of the fire companies got together and came up with the idea for a yearly 5k race.
"We're trying to make this an annual event," he explained. "As our first event, we wanted to help Anthony, who's a volunteer with Enterprise Fire Company 2. We'll try to do a different charity each year moving forward, or just help anyone from the community who needs it. We raised well over $4,000 and that's great for our first time and hopefully, this race will grow each year. We're happy to do this for Anthony this year for our first run."
Local officials included Mayor James Damiano, as well as several council members. who took part in organizing their marathon teams. Among them were the Damiano team and Little Falls Trailblazers Running Club for "Team Anthony." The community readied their running shoes and hit the track to go through the primary path areas of Main Street, Stevens Avenue and Wilmore Road.
According to Chris Vancheri, Little Falls councilman, the event was well attended and was well worth it.
"It was a fun time running a 5K for a great cause," he said, adding that it was his first race in over two years.
"I've taken part in these races before, here and in New York. Anthony is a great kid and I'm happy to be in it, not just as a councilman, but as a human being. They're a great family. Many of these 5Ks go towards wonderful causes, like this one here today."
Richard Englehardt, Anthony's father, said the event had a great turnout and he appreciates what the local volunteers firefighters have done.
"It was very moving," he said. "This is the first run that the fire department has held and it was very successful. It's an incredible community. Anthony has so much support and that's definitely helped him. Once everyone found out, they've been totally behind him. He's a winner."
Besides the overwhelming support of the community, he and his wife, Claudia, also want to thank Passaic Valley High School.
"They did a tremendous amount of fundraising by selling T-shirts at the volleyball games," she explained. "It's amazing to see how much they rally behind him. He's very touched with the way the community has backed him."
She also added the family also appreciated the teaching staff at PV, which has tutored Anthony since last October when he began undergoing treatment and had to miss class time.
"His teachers are very dedicated and he is very lucky," she said. "To be honest, it's been very energizing. There were people who came from all over to be at the 5K, as well as the local community. It's an amazing thing."
She added that Anthony's resolve has been strong.
"He didn't stumble or break down, his attitude was to just battle and get it over with," she noted. "He's been such a trooper.
In addition, the family acknowledged the recent 'Lacrosse Day' organized by Anthony's friends at Cedar Grove High School and during opening day ceremonies in Little Falls with the athletic league.
Burke added that the fire department has been involved with other charities and members are looking forward to being a part of worthy causes in the future.
"We were at the high school's autism walk last week and we plan to take part in other events down the road, like The Special Olympics," he added."We want to make the community aware that we're not only fundraising for the Little Falls Fire Department, but also for other charities."
He also thanked the support of local businesses who helped sponsor the race, such as ShopRite of Little Falls, Schumacher Chevrolet of Little Falls, Hanson & Ryan, Inc. of Totowa, and FSR, Inc. of Woodland Park.
"We want to try to get members of the community also involved in what's also going on," he noted. "Little Falls is changing and there are many residents in town who commute to Manhattan every day and they may not be in touch with what's going on in their community like the older residents might be. We're hoping to get them involved."