Overpeck Park was overrun with over 1,000 of Yad Leah’s volunteers, supporters, runners and families decked out in this year’s blue tees and filling the amphitheater staging area for the 2021 Dash for Dignity 5K, kids’ run and family walk races. The 5K itself had a field of 227 runners, and the family one-mile walk had several hundred more, including many “on wheels” being pushed by a family member. About 75 dashers checked in at their respective starting lines for the kids’ run, beginning as young as 3 years old, through pre-teens. Two 3-year-olds finished their race, albeit with a few stops along the way!
The race organizers run a pretty tight ship, beginning warmups and races on time and closing with the awards ceremony a short hour and 10 minutes after the start of the 5K run. The race was marshalled, with water stations along the route and monitored by a team from the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
For dashers, families and supporters, Yad Leah set up a beautiful, abundant and healthy breakfast station. For the kids—dashers or not—there was a face-painting station, inflatable play areas and cotton candy. The air was filled with upbeat music, and the race organizers kept the event moving with three different starting lines, two separate finish line areas, start-time warnings and countdowns adding to the excitement.
In the 5K local winners circle were Jonathan Pfeffer of Teaneck placing third overall, at a pace of 6:05 per mile and 18:54 for the 5K. Basya Goldstein of Teaneck placed first in the women’s division and 18th overall, at a pace of 7:43 per mile and a time of 23:56 for the 5K.
Yad Leah’s Dash for Dignity is one of many ways that this most noble organization works to “keep a child warm, give them confidence and be the reason they smile.” The clothing collected, sorted and ultimately sent to Israel provides necessary and much appreciated support to families whose ability to provide these basic needs is severely limited.
Sho Poloner, one of Yad Leah’s founders said, “Today’s turnout was incredible; the excitement was contagious. We are so blessed to live in such a wonderful community.” Polaner also noted that Yad Leah has business sponsors who support them financially, others who donated food and drinks for the Dash, and vendors who provided their services at no charge. “Schools and shuls came out with teams and fundraised for Yad Leah. It was a fun and exhilarating day, and most importantly we raised funds which will help us send the clothing that our community and the surrounding neighborhoods have collected to our brothers and sisters in Israel.” Others at the Dash commented that Yad Leah’s warehouse in Passaic is amazing.
The Dash for Dignity raised a little over $70,000 of their fundraising goal of $100,000. You can still help make it happen! To donate and dash for the fundraising goal line, visit https://yadleah.org/don
By Ellie Wolf