Some of the people who assembled in Verona Park on Saturday morning were dedicated runners; others less so. But they came–more than 800 of them–to make a stand against a disease that has taken a tenacious hold on a Verona toddler.
Saturday was the first, but likely not the last “Miles for Miracles Turkey Trot” a 5k race and fun run to raise money for the Progeria Research Foundation on behalf of Team Zoey. That is the organization that has been created in honor of Zoey Penny, who was discovered to have the aging disease when she was just six months old. Organizers Jessica Bishop and Kathleen Quinn had hoped to raise $10,000 for Team Zoey, but a few days before the event, they had more than $17,000 in pledges. By the time the last runners and walked crossed the finish line on Saturday, the race had gathered something close to $38,000.
“I am still overwhelmed by the incredible amount of generosity and support we received, not only yesterday, but over the past three months,” said Quinn on Sunday morning. “I am truly in awe of the selfless donation of time and money Zoey’s story has inspired in others. Yesterday was a great reminder that we have so much to be grateful for in this life.”
There were individual runners and walkers from all over northern New Jersey, and lots of folks from Verona. H.B. Whitehorne 8th graders Alex Hardenberg and Ryan Ramsthaler were first and second for the walkers, with fellow middle schooler Kate Ryan right behind. But scan the photos below, and you’ll see a team from Forest Avenue School and Creative Beginnings Preschool (which recently held its own Team Zoey fundraiser) and lots of other Verona faces, including Zoey herself, decked out in purple and a smile.
According to Zoey’s grandfather John Marozzi, the many Team Zoey events held over the last 18 months have raised close to $800,000 for the Progeria Research Foundation. There’s an indoor spin-a-thon planned for January 22, 2012 at the Lakeland Hills YMCA and another Verona Park race next fall. “We’ve already started talking about next year’s Turkey Trot,” says Quinn. “I’ve fallen too in love with Zoey and her amazing family to end our involvement now.”