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Runners and walkers 'Step Up for a Child'

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Ocean Twp., NJ – Bright sunny skies with temperatures a bit over 80 degrees welcomed the participants on the morning of July 31, 2011 at Joe Palaia Park here in Ocean Township for the annual event that supports abused and neglected children throughout Monmouth County. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Monmouth County is a non-profit charitable organization with a mission to make a difference in our community by recruiting, training, and supporting its professional volunteers to advocate for children in fostercare whose families have been cited for abuse and neglect. CASA believes that “A safe home is not something a child should only dream about.”

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The atmosphere of the day was festive as participants were entertained throughout the morning with music provided by The Breeze Radio Station. The sun was out at this picturesque park, the air was beginning to get humid, and a big blue sky set an ideal backdrop for runners and walkers who stood at the starting line awaiting final race instructions after The Breeze played the National Anthem. Cindi Van Brunt, Executive Director for CASA, took a brief moment to thank all of the participants, volunteers, spectators, sponsor supporters, and especially all of the many members of the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) for coming out and helping to make it such a special and memorable day for the CASA organization and more importantly for the abused and neglected children throughout Monmouth County “who will benefit in more ways than can be imagined because of the time and energy everyone has put forth today for this great cause”. Matt Shafer, CASA Race Director and JSRC Member, after also thanking everyone for their high level of interest, all of the sponsors, supporters and fundraising efforts put forth by so many for this event and worthy cause then counted off for the start of the race to begin. “For all, it was simply an Awesome Day packed with lots of Family Fun and more so for the public awareness this annual event raises for its excellent cause”, Matt explained.

Results - Photos

Keith Witthauer of Apple Valley, California was the first runner to break through the finish-line tape in a time of 17:53 to finish first place overall. He was followed by Dan Rosenblatt of Oakhurst in 18:04 and then Scott Linnell of Colts Neck in 19:13.

For the women it was Tara Gangi of Manalapan finished first in a time of 20:10. She was followed by Kristen McGuire of Avon in 21:43 and then Jennifer Duffy of Oakhurst in 22:24.

“We were quite pleased with the exceptional turnout, even more so, impressed with the positive feedback and general vibe among the countless participants and spectators” explained Shafer.

The Kids Races followed the 5k Race and Walk-A-Thon and there everyone was a winner as all children participants received a commemorative award for completing these races of varying distances in different age groupings. Families were also treated to lots of refreshments (compliments of Wegmans, LaYogurt, WalMart) and DJ music as well as air brushing, Games2U truck games, face painting, and animal balloons were enjoyed by all the children. Immediately following the races, top runner’s overall as well as all age group categories and top walkers were presented with very nice trophies for their elite 5k finish times. In between awards, numerous great raffle prizes were given out. Matt and Cindi both agreed, “Today, everyone was a champion, we could not have been blessed with better race day conditions, the enthusiasm and interest by everyone illuminated the atmosphere of the day. There were many many smiles and that is the most important thing. Everyone was a winner today!” JSRC member, Marty Fitzpatrick said, “I always enjoy coming to Palaia Park every year for this family fun event, it’s simply a great way to spend a sunny summer Sunday morning for such a great cause. I was pleased with my finish time today”.

Following the events at the park, the festivities continued at the Post Race celebration at The Lake House Restaurant and Bar in nearby Loch Harbor, where everyone was treated to a bountiful buffet and of course many more great raffles were given out.

Runners, Swimmer and triathletes will have lots to choose from in coming weeks to include:

Thursday, August 4, 5K, 7 PM. Kids Mile and Half Mile - 6:30 PM, JSRC Summer Series Wall Municipal Complex, Wall, NJ

Saturday, August 6, Twilight Mile, Middletown, NJ

Saturday, August 6, 2011, Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run, 5:45 PM, Sea Isle City, NJ

Saturday, August 6, 5K, 8 AM, Neptune City 5K Registration, Neptune City, NJ, App - Article on Race Saturday, August 6, 6:45 am, 1/3 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.5 mile run, Born to Tri, Asbury Park, NJ

Sunday, August 7, 5K, Sea Girt 5K, Sea Girt, NJ

Saturday, August 13, Asbury Park 5K, Asbury Park, NJ - Jersey Shore Grand Prix Race- Article on Race

Sunday, August 14,Ray Licatta Memorial Swim, Long Branch, NJ

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