By Cheryl Conway
Get the most out of this year’s Halloween costume and preview it on Sat., Oct. 29, at the Zombie 5K Run/Walk and Funny Bones Run For Kids in North Caldwell.
A 501(C)3 non-profit organization, the Nick Tanelli Children’s Soccer Foundation is planning its third annual charity event to raise funds for student soccer scholarships, tournaments and camps as well as equipment purchases or field maintenance. The group was formed in the spring of 2013, shortly after the sudden death of local North Caldwell resident, Nick Tanelli, an avid sports fan, participant and soccer stand-out.
Proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to refurbish a sports field in North Caldwell, as well as six, $1,000 scholarships, granted to senior soccer players in West Essex, James Caldwell and Verona high schools. One male and one female from each school will be selected to receive the scholarship based on applications through their guidance departments.
Student applicants will write a letter explaining how soccer has influenced their lives. Winning recipients are those who may try the hardest rather than being the best player.
“It’s not necessarily about being great,” says Beth Tanelli of North Caldwell, founder of the organization, and wife of Nick in which the foundation was founded for. She reads each essay and selects the winners each year.
Tanelli has centered the scholarships on soccer as that was her husband’s passion. He had excelled on the Verona High School soccer team and played at the collegiate level at Columbia University and New York University Law School, and then later for an adult league in Caldwell.
The Nick Tanelli Foundation is committed to keeping his name alive by helping children grow and flourish while playing soccer.
“We will support tournaments, camps and clinics that have a positive effect on developing physical fitness and mental strength,” she states in a press release. “We will also direct funds towards the purchase of equipment and improvement/maintenance of playing fields.”
In addition to funding scholarships, the foundation supported five players on the West Chester Youth Soccer League BU15 Team to travel to Europe to represent their team in two tournaments. Its financial donation enabled these young men to experience this great honor and compete in a tournament that they would otherwise not be able to participate.
It also provided financial assistance to deserving boys and girls who attended the NJ Stallions Youth Soccer Academy, as well as funds towards upgrading fields and equipment in North Caldwell.
“Providing financial assistance toward these ventures is a great way for us to celebrate Nick’s life and continue his legacy,” says Tanelli. “Nick would be so proud to know his legacy will live on forever.”
Tanelli says, “I’m doing it for my children to preserve my husband’s legacy. It keeps his name alive. I want to have something that my kids can be proud of, to realize how terrific their father was.” They have two children, 10-year old Matthew and eight-year old Isabella, both playing recreation soccer for the first time this year.
“They said ‘We just want to try it,’” says Tanelli. “They are liking it so far.”
It was right before New Year’s Eve in 2011, when Nick got suddenly sick and tragically died four days later, on Jan. 4, 2012, from Strep A, says Tanelli. He had worked as an attorney with J.P Morgan Chase in New York at the time.
“He was a healthy guy,” says Tanelli, who describes the tragic loss of her husband as an “absolutely freak thing.”
This is the first year for the 5K Run/Walk and Funny Bone Run. Tanelli held a trick tray event the first year attracting 500 people, and a casino night with 250 people, both held at the Valley Regency in Clifton.
“We’re directing our efforts to making this a fun and memorable family-friendly event, which raises funds for the children in our community,” says Tanelli. Her goal is to raise $30,000 this year.
“We encourage everyone to come have fun with the whole family at this Halloween-themed event, from costume contests to ‘Spooktacular’ games and activities, there’s something for all ages!”
Runners and walkers of all skill levels are invited to participate in the 5K Run/Walk, which is sanctioned by the NJ Track and Field Organization and certified as a 500 point Grand Prix event. The run will begin and end at North Caldwell Borough Hall through “the scenic beautiful streets of North Caldwell,” describes Tanelli.
Festivities will continue with vendors, music, games/activities, obstacle course, costume contest, face painting and refreshments. All participants are encouraged to get into the Halloween spirit with a runner-friendly costume.
Prizes will be awarded to two overall winners, as well as first, second and third male/female place winners in five year age increments, 11 through 85 plus years.
Funny Bone participants are for those ten and younger, with winners receiving a medal. The 5K Awards Ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m.
Registration is $25 for adults, $15 for kids and USATF-NJ Members pay $22. Same day registration is $30. Sponsorships and vendor spaces are available.
For details, online registration and sponsor/vendor applications, visit www.zombie5k.org or www.nicktanellisoccer.org.
Donations are also being accepted on the website.
For more information, contact Tanelli at (973)228-6632 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.