The seventh annual Oradell Kids Foundation (OKF) 5k Run could not have happened on a more perfect day or supported a more worthy cause in early October. The warm weather, light blue skies and turning leaves made for a nice run and get together as the participants and spectators of the event could attest to.
"We couldn't have asked for better weather," said Andre Loh, OKF member.
The weather was not the only great turnout.
"We have experienced an increase each year, but the weather seemed to cooperate and bring out more participants," said race organizer Peter Murphy, who also participated in the 5k Run.
According to Murphy, the race, in its seventh year, had a record crowd of 136 participants. This number was a significant increase from the previous years 86 participants and the organizers were thrilled.
The Oradell Kids Foundation has been in existence since 1990 and their mission has been to promote the active lifestyle for children by providing the necessary facilities for them to do so.
"It started with the playground on Prospect Avenue," said Loh. "We also made a contribution to the building of a new clubhouse and another playground."
Since 1992, the foundation has raised over $300,000 and has contributed to the revitalization of the community's facilities. The race was just a part of the year round fund and awareness raising events that the Oradell Kids Foundation provides. In addition to these events, they also offer two annual scholarships, mini-grants for local schools and team sponsorships.
The race and its great turnout created a heightened sense of optimism that was brought an accomplished smile across the faces of the foundation and race organizers.
"The cross country team brought out a big contingent of runners and supporters for the event," said Murphy.
The River Dell High School Cross-Country team in expected fashion went on to claim top honors at the race.
The first to cross the finish line was Stephan Schuster who won by a wide margin. Schuster, 15, posted a blistering time of 17:05, finishing over a minute and a half ahead of the second place finisher Nihir Trivedi.
Schuster, the son of Oradell Kids Foundation president Craig Schuster, and Trivedi were among the group representing the high school's cross-country team.
"We came to support the cause," said Trivedi, 16.
After the two finished, the stream of runners were heavier with several excited spectators cheering them across the finish line and one group of children giving them high fives as they crossed the line.
The other groupings winners included, Riley Link, 13, (25:24), Luke Gavigan, 13, (20:51), Anna Yasuoka, 14, (22:56), Kam Lam, 29, (24:44), Matthew Memoli, 26, (22:44), Michele Smith, 39, (21:48), Andrew McAllister, 37, (19:31), Barbara Komor, 43, (24:04), Joe Mills, 49, (19:47), Kathy Christoph, 59, (27:27), Christopher Kunkel, 53, (21:23), Richard Grace, 63, (25:29).
The highly competitive 5k Run was followed by the non-competitive 2k Fun run geared towards promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for future competitors. From parents pushing their infants in strollers or children trying to outjog one another the 2k was without losers and filled with winning smiles and championship camaraderie.
With an eye towards healthy competition and goal of raising funds to improve youth facilities, the Oradell Kids Foundation had a banner day with many on the horizon.
For those who may be interested official results and foundation information, go to www.oradellkids.org.