WEST ORANGE, NJ – Despite the humidity, the mood was upbeat and festive at the seventh annual Walk/Run for Nikhil on Monday at West Orange High School, sponsored by the Nikhil Badlani Foundation. The event netted $45,000 to support the efforts of the organization.
The 5K run was followed by comments from West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi and New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski. West Orange Boy Scout Troop 6 led attendees in the “Pledge of Allegiance” and students performed the National Anthem under the direction of Liberty music teacher Ryan Krewer.
Nikhil’s younger brother, Anay, now an eighth-grade student at Roosevelt Middle School, led attendees in “Nikhil’s Pledge.” Comments from Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani followed and Judith Kottick, founder of Families for Safe Streets in New York, received the annual Nikhil Badlani Inspirational Award.
To date, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation has distributed more than $75,000 in academic scholarships, provided more than $80,000 in music scholarship and aid, and spent more than $80,000 to promote traffic safety. Campaigns include donated reflector strips with imprints of “Drive Smart. Save a Life” throughout various New Jersey towns, PSA artwork created by high school students on NJ Transit trains and buses, and the donation of a Driving Simulator to West Orange High School through the Brain Injury Alliance of NJ.
Most notable was the passage of “Nikhil’s Law,” passed in New Jersey on Aug. 4, 2015, which requires the driver's license examination as well as the driver's manual to address the dangers of failing to comply with the state's motor vehicle traffic laws and offer the applicant the opportunity to take the STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge.
The Foundation also partnered with Families for Safe Streets in June, 2017 to start a chapter in New Jersey.
"We are very humbled by the continued support for our cause by this community,” said Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani. “We are happy to see increased participation from neighboring towns as well and are grateful to our sponsors for helping us stage this event.”
Noting that there have already been 406 traffic fatalities in New Jersey to date in 2017, the family concluded that “traffic safety is a public health crisis and needs to be addressed.”
“These are preventable deaths and the only acceptable number is zero," they said.
Find out more about the Nikhil Badlani Foundation here.
See all the photos from the event here.