About 200 runners/walkers came out for the first annual Joe Wargo Memorial 5K Run/1 Mile Walk fundraiser Saturday morning in Mount Arlington. The group raised $6,500 for the D.A.R.E. program in town.
Mount Arlington police officer Wargo was killed by an alleged drunk driver, while on patrol on Rt. 80, almost one year ago.
“This event brings together two parts of Joe’s life,” said Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata. “Being physically fit by staying active, and, keeping kids on the correct path—keeping them on a straight path.”
The idea for the memorial run was hatched during a brainstorming meeting between members of the Mayor’s Wellness Committee. The group was thinking of doing a 5K run during the fall season and realized the event could be the perfect choice to memorialize Wargo. They approached Wargo’s widow, Amy, with the idea, who was on board immediately. The group went one step further and asked Amy to name a charity who would benefit from the proceeds of the race. Her immediate choice was D.A.R.E. New Jersey, because her husband had been the D.A.R.E. officer in Mount Arlington for a number of years.
“The amount of money raised is significant,” said Chief Licata. “The money gets funneled right to our D.A.R.E. program here in Mount Arlington. Because of the large amount raised, we will be able to do things with our program the we couldn’t do in the past.”
About 10 members of Wargo’s family participated in the 5K/1 Mile Walk including wife Amy, his mother, Yvonne Morley and his sister, Renee Ingraham. Amy ran her first-ever 5K.
“It was rough,” she said after crossing the finish line. “But with the help of my good friends, I finished.”
“This is just great,” she said of the event. “Lots of support, lots of love for Joe.”
Ingraham and her mother participated in the 1 Mile Walk.
“We got through it,” said Ingraham, a bit emotional. “Joe’s with us—he’s proud we did it.
Race organizer Leann Phil was more than pleased with the number of people participating and the amount of money raised. According to Phil, a 5K race in Mount Arlington is here to stay. It is her belief that race proceeds will go to a different charity each year.
Joe Matits, from Flanders, was the first male to cross the finish line with a time of 19:12.1. Local resident Rebecca Keenan was the first female to cross the finish line. She came in at 21:38.4. For the full list of results, go to www.bestrace.com.
Walkers of all ages make their way down Howard Blvd.