BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Friends of the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter will be hosting a USA Track and Field sanctioned 5K run/walk to benefit the shelter.

The Heart & Sole 5K Run/Walk will be held Oct. 9 at Duke Island Park to raise money to help the animals being cared for at the shelter.

Aviva Ehrlich, event organizer, said this is the sixth annual event.

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“In prior years, it has been a 5K walk only,” she said. “For 2016, our amazing volunteer committee has kicked it up a few notches to make the day even more fun.”

The Friends of the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter (FOSRAS) was incorporated in 2002 to help the shelter with fundraising.

“Most money is to supplement what the shelter gets from municipalities,” Kathy Healey, president of FOSRAS, said. “It is mostly medical care for the animals.”

Healey said the shelter has a medical budget that covers basic care, but the fundraising is for extra expenses like broken bones, bloodwork, dental and more. It is called the Cupid Fund, she said.

“We pay for that with money we raise through events and donations,” she said. “Without that money, you couldn’t treat the animals and it would be cruel.”

According to a release, participants will gather for the 5K in the Apple Grove picnic area, with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Awards will be presented for runners at the end.

In addition, the family-friendly 5K walk begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Dogs are welcome to join the walkers (not the runners), and walkers may also bring strollers.

The top prize is a $250 gift card, and it will be awarded to the run/walk participant with the highest amount of pledged donations. Gift items will also be raffled during the event.

The event will feature refreshments, demos and vendors, and there will be a Try It Agility course for dogs, plus a special appearance by Somerset Patriots mascot Sparkee. There will also be t-shirts for the humans and goody bags for the dogs.

Last year, Healey said, they raised around $12,000, and they are expecting to raise more this year, especially because it is a certified run in addition to being a walk.

“I think we’ll get a whole different group of people because people who do runs don’t go to walks,” she said. “I expect we’ll get a group of people who have never participated before, and hopefully they’ll come back for more.”

In addition to raising money for the shelter, Ehrlich said, the goal of the event is to increase the number of attendees and have more for them to do at the park. 

“We are very excited and are looking forward to a great turnout for the day,” she said.

Participants can sign up at www.fosras.com, and begin collecting pledges.

Ehrlich said they are encouraging walkers and runners to register early, and people can set themselves up as individuals or teams, and then reach out to friends and family to help raise pledge funds.

“The participant who brings in the most pledges will win a $250 gift card, the runner-up a $100 gift card,” she said.

This year, the event has two major sponsors, Valkyrie Electric Motors of Somerville is the presenting walk sponsor and the Somerset Veterinary Group of Bridgewater is the presenting run sponsor.

The animal shelter takes care of about 1,000 lost, abandoned and surrendered animals every year. In 2015, the shelter placed more than 700 homeless animals into loving homes.

For more information, visit www.fosras.com. There are also sponsorships available for the event, and information is available by emailing heartandsole@fosras.com.