WEST ORANGE, NJ – Nearly 1,000 people of all ages gathered outside of the West Orange Municipal Building on Main Street to participate in the 29th annual Mayor’s 5K Run/Walk on Sunday to “break the silence” on ovarian cancer by raising awareness about the disease, celebrating survivors and remembering those who lost their lives to the disease.
Raising a total of nearly $80,000 this year, the event nearly broke its fundraising record.
Held in collaboration with the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA), this year also marks 12 years since the township decided to partner with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) in memory of a West Orange resident who died from the disease.
According to the NOCC, more than 20,000 women in the United States alone are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, with approximately 15,000 who die from the disease. The numbers reflect that nearly 70 percent of women are usually diagnosed in the advanced stages of cancer, but the survival rate increases to more 90 percent if symptoms are recognized early.
“Since most diagnoses are in later stages, we try to make a big outcry for signs and symptoms that are present in earlier stages,” said Jennifer Marzigliano, manager of the NOCC New Jersey chapter. “So, we gather everybody in teal to make that big splash of awareness, but also a lot of the teams here are in memory of someone and are also honoring a survivor with them today.”
Marzigliano added that in addition to raising money for the NOCC, this year’s race also raised money for The Maureen Fund for Ovarian Cancer, which is run by Hackensack Meridian Health.
Although the annual West Orange event is “very different” from all the other events affiliated with the DWOA, Executive Director Megan Brill said that she learned a lot about ovarian cancer after meeting with participants and learning about their stories—including the fact that there is currently no test to detect the disease.
Brill proclaimed that the race is “truly a celebration of life, [celebrating] the families that are still surviving.”
Because ovarian cancer has touched the lives of many people—including many who live in the West Orange community—Councilman Jerry Guarino said he is touched by how many people get involved with this race every year.
“We get a great turnout every year and it shows how much our community comes together and how everybody really cares,” said Guarino, noting that the Mayor’s 5K is a “great event” where people can support others by raising funds for research that will ultimately help families through “this terrible time.”
Mayor Robert Parisi said that collaborating with the NOCC has given the event “new life” and brings the event to “a whole new level in terms of participation and dollars raised.
“It’s been a great partnership raising significant money for an important cause and [it’s] just a great way to bring the community together,” said Parisi. “Not only is it raising money for an important cause—celebrating people dealing with this difficult disease—but it’s bringing almost 1,000 people together to celebrate each other and enjoy a beautiful Sunday morning."
At the end of the races, Assemblyman John McKeon, a West Orange resident, announced the winners and presented prizes and medals to the runners who finished first overall and in the top three of their age group.
Prior to presenting the awards, however, McKeon asked all in attendance to remember the “real winners” of the race, or those who will benefit from the “research that’s going to be done for ovarian cancer,” he said.
The overall first place winner was Greg Johnson of Mechanicsburg with a race time of 17 minutes and 18 seconds. The overall first place female, Desirae Piccoli of Cedar Grove, finished at 22 minutes and 23 seconds.
Also recognized were the “number one finishers” from the Township of West Orange, both of whom were presented with the Mayor’s trophy.
In the male category, 60-year-old Anselm LeBourne placed first with a time of just under 19 minutes (18:59). The female finisher from West Orange was Heidi Rivkin, who completed the race at a time of 25 minutes and 18 seconds.
All other winners received a gold, silver or bronze medal for finishing in the top three of their age group. The groups included: 14 and under; 15-19 years; 20-29 years; 30-39 years; 40-49 years; 50-59 years; 60-69 years; 70-79 years; and 80 and over.
Following the announcements of the winners, members of the NOCC came together to dedicate a crabapple tree in memory of those who have lost their battle with ovarian cancer.
According to Brill, this event could not have been organized without the help of the West Orange Department of Public Works, West Orange Police Department (WOPD), West Orange Fire Department (WOFD), the NOCC and the rest of the DWOA team.
The winners were announced as follows:
14 and Under (Male)
Ari Jacobs of West Orange (24:11)
Luke Renna of Point Pleasant Boro (24:42)
Nick Predeville of Point Pleasant Boro (26:39)
14 and Under (Female)
Nicole Kulikowski of Kearny (59:48)
Hayley Goldberg of West Orange (1:00:53)
Mia Vergura of New Providence (1:01:25)
15 Through 19 Years Old (Male)
Sean Bragdon of Little Falls (20:34)
Daniel Baptista (1:06.19)
15 Through 19 Years Old (Female)
Amber Goldberg of West Orange (1:00:53)
Kiara Alvarez of West Orange (1:03:09)
Tatiana Henriques of Union (1:06:50)
20 Through 29 Years Old (Male)
Binyamin Brickman of West Orange (20:28)
Kyle Mesce of Boonton (23:44)
Tristan Murphy of West Orange (23:50)
20 Through 29 Years Old (Female)
Isabella Pacheco of Bloomfield (22:38)
Christine Melzoso (25:14)
Johnanna Izzo of Rockaway (28:36)
30 Through 39 Years Old (Male)
Michael Nikolayew of New York (20:47)
Andrew Heisler of New York (22:29)
Matthew Sheehan of Lincoln Park (22:36)
30 Through 39 Years Old (Female)
Laura Nikolayew of Brooklyn (25:35)
Devin Charette of Madison (25:53)
Whitney Feldman of Morristown (25:54)
40 Through 49 Years Old (Male)
Guillermo Claro of West Orange (21:20)
Paul Zolenski of New York (21:36)
David Feldman of Morristown (21:37)
40 Through 49 Years Old (Female)
Tanya Moon of Scotch Plains (25:21)
Irma Schiff of Montville (27:59)
Tracy Sisto of Short Hills (28:29)
50 Through 59 Years Old (Male)
Rikhugh Augevita of South Orange (24:26)
Ross Mistretta of Wayne (24:30)
Gerald Ciciola of Chatham (25:14)
50 Through 59 Years Old (Female)
Sangeeta Badlani of West Orange (26:23)
Lucy Sarabando of Kearny (28:10)
Shari-Beth Susskind of West Orange (29:19)
60 Through 69 Years Old (Male)
Ralph Cerone of Livingston (23:10)
Ralph Castellano of West Orange (25:04)
Dave Seber of West Orange (29:41)
60 Through 69 Years Old (Female)
Janice Morra of Morristown (26:48)
Nancy Katz-Johnson of Monroe (27:35)
Laurie O’Hanlon of Greenlawn (30:00)
70 Through 79 Years Old (Male)
Vincent Dahmen of West Orange (32:28)
Thomas McCabe of Colonia (39:59)
Garrett Winn of East Orange (48:05)
70 Through 79 Years Old (Female)
Brenda Drakes of Edison (1:14:58)
Marlene Martini of Summit (1:17:08)
Sally Zarrillo of Scotch Plains (1:22:18)
80 Years Old and Over (Male)
Jerry Shapiro of Wayne (37:53)
Nathaniel Finestone of Mountainside (40:55)
80 Years Old and Over (Female)
Elaine Josephsor of Fort Lee (1:06:19)
For full race results, click HERE.