Nearly 1,300 people of all ages gathered under sunny skies for the fourth annual Walk4Friends on April 29 at Vonage Corporate Center in Holmdel. The goal of the walk was to raise funds and awareness for the Friendship Circle, a program that provides friendship for children with special needs, but it accomplished much more than its primary mission.
“So many parents came over to us during the event to thank us for dedicating a special day to their children,” said Chanale Wolosow, director of The Friendship Circle in Central New Jersey.
“Imagine 1,300 people coming to show their support for your child and your family. The parents were beaming with pride, and the children with special needs were the spotlight of the event,” Wolosow said.
Mitch Baum, a parent of a Friendship Circle child living in Marlboro, found the day to be very moving.
"It was touching to see how many people came out in support of the Friendship Circle programs. There were so many things for the kids to do in an environment where they, and their families, can truly relax and enjoy themselves. I am always touched by the volunteers who are part of Friendship Circle. They give their own time to put a smile on face of children who otherwise might not have anyone they could call a "friend,”” Baum said.
Walk4Friends kicked off the day with an opening ceremony and pep rally, including a group warm-up led by a New York Sports Club Fitness instructor, Vicki Eisen. The one-mile walk around the Vonage campus was led by the Marlboro High School marching band. After the walk, participants enjoyed great food, rides, games, and a featured show by “Wacky Chad”. Among the guests were Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen, Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto, and Colts Neck Mayor, Jarret Engle.
“The outpouring of love from the community to support the Friendship Circle was truly amazing” said Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen. “So many volunteers give of their time to make this program possible and so many more were responsible for the success of this important event.”
Volunteer Nate Cohen, a student of Marlboro High School who spoke during the opening ceremony shared "Through Friendship Circle, I have learned that the greatest gift one can receive is the gift of giving to others. Sam, my special friend has taught me everything I know about friendship".
Walk4Friends has raised over $130,000 toward their goal of $150,000 needed for Friendship Circle programming. The money raised go directly to fund the social and recreational programs for children with special needs.
You can still make a donation at www.walk4friends.com and help Walk4Friends reach their goal. To learn more about the Friendship Circle visit www.friendsnj.com or call 732-536-2319.