Under a gorgeous sky, on a perfect day in September, 70 volunteers gathered at the break of dawn in Skillman Park, NJ, to start preparing for a grand event: the Inaugural Vibha NY/NJ 5k Dream Mile Walk/Run under the aegis of the all-volunteer non-profit Vibha.
The remarkable feature of the event was the enthusiasm and drive displayed by the young organizers – middle school teens, under the tutelage of their parents, arranged most of the details of the 5K, and had been planning the event for several months pouring their energy, talent and ideas into the preparatory stages, then participating avidly all the way in the execution of the event and finally ensuring that the actual event day was a resounding and smooth success.
After several hours of energetic activity this Saturday morning, the Race was flagged off with 473 participants at 9 am on September 16th. The fun atmosphere at the venue was enhanced by kids activities, with food, music, the hypnotic drumbeat of a traditional Indian dhol and a lovely Flash Mob performance by young volunteers all combining to creating a festive and lively atmosphere.
The runners/ walkers, and the 75 volunteers were all supporting the efforts of Vibha to bring to children in India and the US opportunities that they would otherwise not encounter. Children of migrant workers, day laborers, girl children, children from financially strapped backgrounds are equipped with books, school fees, nutritional meals, vitamin supplements, shoes, book bags through Vibha’s commitment to their welfare.
Vibha, a nation-wide nonprofit has 18 action centers across the US and has raised $ 15 million since its inception in 1991, by the tireless commitment of its volunteers. To date, through 250 supported projects, they have impacted the lives of 300,000 children. Currently they support 30 projects in India and 7 in the US.
Participants wore classy red Tshirts with the logs of sponsors displayed on the back, volunteers sported blue tshirts.
Walkers were impressed by the chips embedded in the bibs and the automated time tracking this allowed.
“This is the most professional 5K I have ever attended”, said a glowing participant, after Montgomery Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker congratulated the winners.
The Walk raised 12K with 10 percent of funds going to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Bag Project of Princeton, NJ which supplies a bag of essential items to children in crisis. The remaining amount funds ongoing India projects.