By Maryanne Cdristiano-Mistretta
Sun., Sept. 18, The Nikhil Badlani Foundation plans to host the sixth Annual USATF-certified STOP for Nikhil 5K Run/Walk at West Orange High School.
In the past, hundreds of people turned out for the walk and run – and five years later, the event keeps growing as the community pulls together in honor of the 11-year-old Nikhil Badlani who was killed in a car accident, June 2011.
The Nikhil Badlani Foundation was started by Nikhil’s mother, Sangeeta Badlan in order to educate and make people aware of traffic laws, traffic safety, and to remember and honor those who died or were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes, Badlani started The Nikhil Badlani Foundation.
In a news release from the event organizers, it was stated that “As of July 31, there have been 326 motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey, an increase of nine perfect from last year as per the State Police Fatal Accident Crash Statistics. This number does not include those that were seriously injured.”
The event will include Kids Fun Run, music, children’s activities and food. Bicycle helmets, courtesy of NJ Safe Kids, will be custom fitted and given to the first 30 kids who arrive.
Awards will be presented to the team captain that raises the most funds; to the team captain with the most team members; and to the top three male and female runners in each group.
Funds raised will support the foundation’s ongoing programs to promote traffic safety awareness and provide music and academic scholarships to underserved children.
The foundation helps children pursue their passion for music by providing individualized music lessons for free or at a reduced cost for students from West Orange and neighboring towns who show talent and promise and who demonstrate financial need. Through such lessons, the foundation hopes to foster creativity, self-esteem and confidence in children, as well as raise their awareness of and participation in local and state music organizations, such as the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Youth Orchestra of Essex County.
Thanks to partnership with Essex County, participants will receive discounted admission to Turtle Back Zoo, Mini Golf Safari and Codey Arena on any race day when they show their Run/Walk bibs.
Remembering her son, Badlani shared that he was a sixth grade student at Thomas A. Edison Central Six School. He was a musician who played piano and trumpet. He had been accepted into the Essex County Junior Symphony as a trumpet player shortly before the accident – and was about to begin private trumpet lessons.
He was also an actor and starred in a production of “Twinderella.”
Nikil was a smart student who knew everything there was to know about dinosaurs. He mastered in math and science.
When Nikhil was not in school, he spent his days reading, swimming, and listening to music.
According to his family, “He touched the hearts of everyone he met with his infectious smile and enthusiasm.”
Interested participants can register, start a team, donate, or learn more at www.stopfornikhil.org.
To learn more about the Nikhil Badlani Foundation and its programs, visit: https://www.nikhilbadlanifoundation.org.