BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Sunday sun finally broke through after a rain drenched morning for the 900 runners who crossed the finish line of the 15th Annual Summit Area YMCA Mother's Day 5K in Berkeley Heights.
Guillaume Flavingni, 39, of Summit crossed finished first in 18:19.9; Joseph Epinoza, 19, placed second in 19:04.1. Fourteen year-old Alexander Aranas of Berkeley Heights placed third overall in 19:14.3. Annie Keenan, 15, was the first female to finish in 21:13.9, and placed 24th overall.
The race is a chip-timed, USATF-sanctioned race through the neighborhoods of Berkeley Heights to the finish line at Memorial Park.
The event draws participants of all ages -- it's about having fun, said Paul Kieltyka, Summit Area YMCA President and CEO. Participants include cancer survivors and LiveSTRONG program graduates to 80 year-old winning finalists, Woodruff School Happy Feet participants to mom and dads pushing infants in double strollers.
Running for the LiveSTRONG cause -- the 12-week recovery program for adult cancer survivors -- is enough to drive the popularity of this annual race, but it also has a vibe to it, said Dr. Donald DeFabio, Race Chair.
The "vibe" DeFabio speaks of is created through the combination of festive music, face painting, magician show, Zumba classes -- and because the participants are "doing it for Mom."
The event will raise over $50,000 for the LivesSTRONG Program, said Kieltyka. "LiveSTRONG helps cancer survivors get back on their feet, mentally and physically."
"We are providing programs and services in excess of one million dollars every year to help people -- that's what we want to be -- we want our Y to be your Y and we are here to help and serve you in anyway we can," Kieltyka added.
"Supporting the Y helps to support the community," said DeFabio. "It's about giving back and that's what the Y is about."