When I heard that RWJBarnabas Health was sponsoring the Running With The Devils 5K Run and Walk to raise awareness about the health and wellness of New Jersey’s diverse communities, I knew that my family would be all in. It’s a cause that I’m passionate about: I’m a registered nurse and know how important healthcare initiatives like these are because they benefit everyone. This would be our first time doing a race/walk with our 1-year old and a good one to try because it included a walk and was stroller-friendly. Since the race setting was in a prime, family-friendly area (right next to the Turtleback Zoo and playground in Essex County), I figured this was a perfect opportunity to head up north and spend a beautiful fall day outside.
When we arrived, it was chilly, but we were met with smiling faces, excited families with kids, professional athletes, as well as other fellow walkers and runners. We were there early, so we took advantage of all the fun family events, like games, photo booths and face painting. Cole had a blast tossing a bean bag into a top hat and admiring all the mascots from NJ college and professional teams, and then proceeded to fall asleep (it was his usual nap time). While he slept, we voted for our favorite mascot (Boomer from our hometown) and watched the First Annual Mascot Race, cheering them on as they tumbled and stumbled through the obstacle course. After, it was so cute to see the kids take photos with all the mascots and get excited about the race.
For the race, Cole was in his stroller and I was wondering how it was going to work if there were runners around us. But it turned out well: The runners went first while we participated in activities, and then it was our turn to do the walk without feeling rushed. I was amazed at how many families were there—so many young kids and strollers at the start line. You could feel the excitement in the air since everyone around us was smiling and genuinely happy to start the walk.
As we waited to go, we cheered the runners on as they ran by us and made their way around the reservoir. It was perfect timing for us because Cole was still sleeping and tucked in his stroller, warm and cozy. As the sun warmed things up a little bit, we began the walk, and my husband and I were able to take in the beautiful day, walking with hundreds of others while bringing awareness to all the fantastic things RWJBarnabas Health does for the NJ communities. The event was a great testament to the reputation of the RWJBarnabas Health statewide, promoting healthy, active lifestyles and world-class healthcare.
The kids around us were also fired up for the zoo (the entry fee included free admission to the zoo), and as we rounded the walk route, you could see parts of the exhibits through the fence. As the chill lifted a bit, and we made our way to the finish line, I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful way to spend a morning and support a great cause.
We want to thank RWJBarnabas Health and the NJ Devils for a fantastic day and great memories. We can’t wait to do it again next year!