SPRINGFIELD N.J.- Runners gathered on a chilly September morning for the second annual Salute to Veterans 5k and Fun Run. The event, which started at Jonathan Dayton High School and ended in front of the Springfield Municipal Building brought competitors from all age groups to test their physical fitness.
The event was co-hosted by the New Jersey Veterans Network and Temple Sha’arey Shalom of Springfield. For Michael Boll, President of the veterans network, the 5K was a great opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile cause.
“This event in particular is going to help veterans that suffer from PTSD,” Boll said. “All money collected today is going to be used to send veterans to Camp Patriot in Montana, which is specifically for anyone who suffers from PTSD or other disabilities as well. So, it’s pretty exciting to have so many people from the county and this township of Springfield come together and raise so much money to help these people.”
And for Sha’arey Shalom organizer Steve Marcus, the partnership and town spirit the race exuded was its own reward.
“It’s very important to be a part of the community and partner with the New Jersey Veterans Network,” Marcus said. “Because we really feel that this is a good opportunity for us to give back to our community.”
Among the runners at the race were members of Team Red White and Blue (RWB), an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of veterans. Julie Daigle was the central captain for the 5k run. She said that it was a no brainer for Team RWB to race in the event.
“Team Red White and Blue is there to connect our veterans to their communities and we do that through physical and social activity,” Daigle said. “And there’s no better way to do that than at an event actually supporting veterans in the community.”
The final results of the race were as follows. On the men’s side, Justin Phillips of Springfield came in first with a time of 19 minutes and three seconds. He was followed 30 seconds later by Steve Burgermeister of Summit with a time of 19 minutes and 33 seconds. Robbie Matos of Springfield rounded out the top three men’s finishers with a time of 19 minutes and 42 seconds.
In the women’s race, Lauren Santonastaso was the winner, with a time of 23 minutes and 14 seconds. She was trailed by second-place finisher Nicole Birkmann of Springfield, who ran the course in 24 minutes and three seconds. And Claudia Reines completed the Springfield sweep of the women’s podium, finishing with a time of 24 minutes and 18 seconds.