Greta's Run co-organizer Ben Nanna said he's grateful for the initial outpouring of support the inaugural 5K run/walk in memory of his childhood friend Greta Schoenemann has received.
A Westfield High School student, Schoenemann was one week into her freshman year when a tree limb fell on her and nine friends as they ate lunch outside WHS on September 11, 2002. Schoenemann sustained grave injuries and died four days later.
A run through downtown Westfield will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15, the 11th anniversary of Schoenemann's passing. Proceeds from the event will benefit special needs programming at the Westfield Y. As Greta’s sister Elise has Cerebral Palsy, the Schoenemann family knows first-hand the value of creating opportunities for everyone, regardless of ability.
On their fundraising page, the Schoenemanns shared how important this cause is to them: "Caring for a child/sibling with a severe disability is challenging. Finding recreational activities for the severely disabled is sometimes an even greater challenge. We hope that this run, in memory of our Greta, will inspire the community to help in the efforts of the Westfield Area Y to expand their programs for the differently-abled population."
With a goal of raising $25,000 in mind, Nanna said he's pleased with how efforts have gone thus far but recognizes that there is still much work to be done. Nanna said he believes personal fundraising pages, which can be created easily through the event's page, are key to the event's success "because they convey our personal experience with Greta."
"Telling her story and raising money are equal parts," explained Nanna, who has organized the event with Jayne Ruotolo in partnership with the Y. "The heart of Greta’s Run is about what it can mean experientially for the community. Which is why the goal is to honor one of our own and pay tribute to the sister she loved by making the beneficiaries of Greta’s Run people like Elise; people with special needs; people in our community.
"We wanted to show the Schoenemann family we all still remember and we all still care. As well, we wanted to act in the spirit of Greta because she’s a positive role model. The success of Greta’s Run and the ability to fund new programs for people with special needs is hinged on the support of the community, and our community hearing the heart of our cause."
Nanna said social media and word of mouth have been the only means of marketing the event but organizers hope to host an art show to raise additional funds prior to the 5K.
"Because the majority of the donations have been $10 to $100, this is and has been a grassroots effort, which makes Greta’s Run even more of a success because everyone is and can be involved," he said.
Those interested in participating can create fundraising pages, donate or sponsor Greta’s Run. Information for how to do this is located on the website.
Check back with Patch for additional information as Greta's Run approaches.