Giving Back

Plainfield Dairy Queen's Donna Albanese-DeMair at NJ Sharing Network 5K, Targeted to Raise $1.25M

Donna Albanese-DeMair, an originating committee member, now in its 7th yr. The event started with 28 teams and now is held in 3 locations with 200 teams participating, on target to raise $1.25M. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Thousands walked the streets of New Providence during the NJ Sharing Network 5K, Celebration of Life. Credits: Bobbie Peer
10,000 runners participate in the NJ Sharing Network 5K 'Celebration of Life' Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Race winners. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Race winner JP Flavin running in 15:49.58. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Alexandra Niles (18:06.71) first place girls finisher with her family. Credits: Bobbie Peer
"It’s an honor and a privilege to be the host community, it’s all for a great cause. -- It means a lot to us," said Mayor Al Morgan standing with CEO Joe Roth and UC Freeholder Angel Estrada. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Mayor Al Morgan with Union County Freeholder Angel Estrada and Al Mirabella. Credits: Bobbie Peer

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - When thousands of participants filled the streets of New Providence at last Sunday's NJ Sharing Network's "Celebration of Life" 5K, they ran or walked with a story, a purpose -- to save lives together.

"When you share the story, you can’t help but to save a life," said Donna Albanese-DeMair, former Chair of NJ Sharing Network Foundation and one of the originators of the 5K which is in its seventh year. "People start talking, they start checking the box -- lives are saved by sharing our stories," she said. 

Albanese-DeMair, owner of Dairy Queen in Plainfield, has a story of her own -- she joined the organ donation family when she gave one of her kidneys to her mother. "When you save one life, you save a whole family," she said. "You are all part of my family, a part of my Sharing Network family. We are all here today to save lives."

Sign Up for E-News

At 9:30 a.m. there were Race Awards and a program which featured speakers including Albanese-DeMair; Elisse Glennon, Executive Director of Sharing Network Foundation; Stephen Adubato, television broadcaster for Caucus Educational Corporation; Joe Roth, President and CEO of NJ Sharing Network and Frank D’Amelio, executive vice-president of Business Operations and chief financial officer of Pfizer, Inc., which has been the presenting sponsor for seven consecutive years.

The event is made possible through the work of  222 volunteers and the event sponsors including presenting sponsor Pfizer, Inc, platinum sponsor RWJ Barnabas Health and the many gold, silver and bronze level sponsors. 

Mayor Al Morgan, representing the host town, along with Union County Freeholders Al Mirabella, Angel Estrada and Christopher Hudak were present and on stage. Hudak told his story that this year he became a member of a donor family. "My mother passed away very unexpectedly -- we found out she was an organ donor -- she registered on the national registry," said Hudak. "The hospital knew. I want to thank the Sharing Network and their professional staff - because without them, her gift would not have gone out so quickly."

Awards were given to the six top race winners who included: JP Flavin (15:49.58), Ben Evans (16:56.85), Zack Faljean (17:18.96), Alexandra Niles (18:06.71), Julia Trethaway (19:46.28) and Laura Baeyene (20:14.). 

Elisse Glennon looked out at the crowd of participants and was inspired. "You inspire us, you inspire family, friends and colleagues by the thousands to walk together so we can honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received and offer hope to those who continue to wait, and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life," said Glennon. "The sharing network commitment to our community is that we will not stop until everyone waiting for a transplant receives one."

The tent village was filled with a sea of colors that represented the 200 registered teams and thousands of participants -- each shirt represented a story of a donor or recipient.  

The bright pink Linda Lovees were in honor of Linda Finnegan, an aerobics instructor and phys-ed teacher, wife and mother of five who passed away suddenly in December. "She was a big motivator -- when this happened, we knew we wanted to get the biggest team," said Linda's daughter Shannon. Their team was 150 participants strong, raising over $9,000.

Race winner JP Flavin ran for team Tim's Rangers. Tim lost his life when struck by a car. Female repeat race winner Alexandra Niles ran for her mother Betsy, who was a donor.

The day also celebrated stories of receiving the gift of life. A husband was celebrating his 52nd wedding anniversary thanks to receiving a heart transplant 9 years ago, and a 14 year old was participating in the 5K because he was the recipient of a heart transplant at age 9. 

This year, the 5K "Celebration of Life" expanded to three locations -- a 5K Walk at Bergen Community College in Paramus in April, and the New Providence USATF Race and 5K Walk -- and new this year, a 5K was held in Long Branch at Great Lawn at the Ocean Promenade. 

The 200 teams registered are on target to raise $1,250,000. "The event continues to grow in leaps and bounds every year," said Glennon. "This is the nation’s most successful 5K for the cause of organ and tissue donation and you are all part of it."

The message to "checking the box" and register as an organ and tissue donor was heard loud and clear. -- "The message is simple, people come together thousands strong at the Sharing Network 5K to give the gift of life and to share and get the message out," said Steve Adubato, television broadcaster for Caucus Educational Corporation.

Participants also find comfort in the NJ Sharing Network family, knowing their loved ones carry on because of their gift of life. 

The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad lost one of their own this past year. A large group of Summit EMTs and the surrounding community came out to honor Cindy Mahoney of Berkeley Heights, who suddenly passed away in November 2016.  

"We may not have given it much thought before," said Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad Chief Kari Phair.  "Everyone should consider it.-- I think all of us -- it is the single greatest gift to give peace and hope that she lives on."

Check out the NJ Sharing Network 5K Celebration of Life - New Providence photo album on Facebook for event day photos. Click here for race results.

NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally designated organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for New Jersey residents in need of life-saving transplants.  The NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to increasing the number of lives saved through education, research, donor family support and public awareness about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. For more information and to register to be a donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Support the Downtown on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25

Another shopping season is upon us here in Plainfield and shops downtown are open for business. Plainfield has a unique mix of mom-and-pop stores that offer trendy name brand clothes and shoes that compete with mall traffic and Cyber Monday deals, perfect for anyone looking for a bargain. The importance of spending locally has never been more critical as retailers and restaurants struggle to ...

A Stroll Through Echo Lake Park

This past Sunday, I joined the Freewalkers for its Stroll & Roll walking event.  Freewalkers Yohana Maria and Risa Olinsky organized the festivities, now in its second year. 

The walk, designed to be family-friendly, and for people of all ages and abilities, began in Echo Lake Park, another gem in the Union County Park system.  The four-mile round trip trek also cut ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_9d8e453cf3136a3d0129_rec_2017_hw_helper

Mon, November 20, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper

Education

Carousel_image_9b2cbfad927ae1c24aac_community_choir

Mon, November 20, 7:00 PM

Shiloh Baptist Church, Plainfield

Join the Community Choir

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Carousel_image_9d8e453cf3136a3d0129_rec_2017_hw_helper

Tue, November 21, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper

Education

Wardlaw + Hartridge Middle School Thespians Put on a Musical Show

November 19, 2017

EDISON, NJ -- Bravo to the Wardlaw + Hartridge Middle School students for entertaining the audience with two fantastic performances in The Little Mermaid Jr. in the new Berry Performing Arts Center last Friday.

Among the show's many stars were Sydney Racine of Piscataway as Ariel, Naischa Puri of Edison as Ursula, Aum Mehta of Edison as Sebastian, Julian Kaniuka of North Plainfield as ...

Canadian Aquaculture Giant Gobbles Up Last American Bait Fish Grinder as Major Decision Looms

November 10, 2017

In case you haven’t heard, a multinational fish farming company (Cooke Inc.) has made a deal to purchase Omega Protein Inc. and take them into the private sector. While the ink is not dry on this deal, it is obvious that the American fishing community will not be part of this new portfolio. There is no doubt that new, private ownership will continue to disregard the needs of the ecosystem ...

Brooklyn Company Moving to Paterson, Creating 50 Jobs

November 19, 2017

TRENTON, NJ- The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has approved a 10-year, $3,869,000 grant that will allow the Yoland Corporation, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer, to move its headquarters to Paterson.

Yoland, which has a contract with the US Defense Department to manufacture illumination parachutes and other textiles for the military, will receive the award thanks to the Grow New ...

Affordable Housing Program Helps Older Americans Make The Rent

November 10, 2017

While Barbara Ross’s income places her below the poverty line, she isn’t one of the nearly 2 million households with older adults in dire need of affordable housing. Thanks to a little-known federal program, Ross, 64, is able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Plainfield, N.J.

Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “Section 202 Supportive ...

The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman (St. Martins Griffin, 2016)

 

Author Lynda Cohen Loigman states, “The Two-Family House is a story I thought about for at least ten years before I ever wrote a word. I spent countless hours over a full decade thinking about how Rose, Helen, Abe, and Mort would behave in difficult situations, and how they would feel when faced with ...