PISCATAWAY, NJ - The football stadium at Piscataway High School glowed with fluorescent and neon colors Saturday night as more than 300 runners and walkers joined together to help raise awareness for cancer research at the 2017 Glow for a Cure.
With donations, registrations, and support from the Piscataway School District and area sponsors, including TAPinto Piscataway, organizers presented the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (RCINJ) with a check for $7,000 in memory of Michael Wojcik who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2015.
"Believe it or not we started planning for this event only five weeks ago," said co-organizer, Harold Abraham, the assistant principal at Knollwood Elementary School. "It's something we take a lot of pride with, and having the entire community here means a lot."
Wojcik's wife, Indira was inspired to organize the fundraiser as a way to honor his memory and to thank RCINJ for the level of care he received during his battle with the disease.
"Life is hard without you, and we miss you every moment of every day," Indira read from the letter she wrote that expressed her feelings about losing her husband, a father of two. "But I know we will be okay because I know you are looking over us."
She described how their son and daughter display many of their dad's best qualities, such as Mary's determination to overcome an injury to make the varsity soccer team, and how Mikey was inspired to "bring hope and happiness to kids affected by cancer," raising almost $5,000 to purchase and donate new toys for them at RCINJ.
"Each of us has felt the pain (of cancer) that breaks into our lives," said Bill Irwin, the school board's president during the tribute. "Some of us here tonight are battling right now, some of us are here to support loved ones and friends who are fighting, some of us are here to remember loved ones whose struggle is at an end, but whose memory and spirit live in our hearts forever."
Runners and walkers donned the multi-colored glowing necklaces and bracelets and carried oversized foam glow batons as they navigated the route that followed sidewalks and paths around Piscataway High School, on Behmer Road and in Green Acres Park, with clusters of glowing batons marking the way.
Before their return, the stadium was darkened for all to see the word Hope outlined in the bleachers with glowing luminary bags, which also lined the running track with personalized messages written by participants affected by cancer.
"It was a lot of fun," a group of middle school-aged girls shouted at the finish line when asked about their experience running the glow event in the dark.
"People loved the event," said Jonathan Simmonds, another organizer about the response from the community. "It's a quick, cool event and the glow concept really added to it."
"We certainly were 'glowing for a cure' tonight and are proud of our efforts," Abraham told the crowd as the planning committee presented an oversized ceremonial check to the RCINJ representative. "We look forward to this being an annual event."
Donations for the Glow for a Cure campaign can be made through June 20th by visiting Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey's website at https://cinjfoundation.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=585.
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