Upwards of 800 runners and walkers poured onto the Hopatcong High School grounds on Sunday morning to participate in a 5K race or mile “fun run”—all to benefit a local seventh grader who was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in December. In all, the event, “Run for Jordan,” is expected to have raised at least $70,000 for the family of Jordan Yaros, a competitive runner who completed a 5:45 mile as a sixth grader and is currently in a wheelchair as she recovers from cancer treatments. Ewing sarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer, and in addition to 13-hour surgery in April, Yaros has faced regular chemotherapy treatments during the last several months, completing her final treatment just before Sunday’s race. “This is about helping a family in need,” said Guy Gordan, Yaros’s personal trainer, who organized the event alongside family friend Willa Scantlebury. “It’s also about doing something that Jordan definitely wants to do again, which is run.” Scantlebury was amazed by the outpouring of support for Yaros on Sunday. The day before the race, she and a core group of about a dozen volunteers put notes in the mailboxes of residents who live along the race course, alerting them to the event. Come Sunday morning, many of those residents stood outside to cheer on the runners, and set up their own water stations. “The community just came out in droves,” Scantlebury said. “But that’s what Hopatcong does—the people of this town really come out and show support for one another. Jordan gave us the reason.” Yaros’s uncle Dave Rich, of Rockaway, said family and friends began planning the race in February. Even earlier in the week, he said, they were only expecting up to 500 runners. “To see so many more people here, it’s just overwhelming,” Rich said. “This has exceeded all expectations, and we just feel so blessed.” Yaros herself was in attendance, and sounded the starting buzzer for the race to begin. Justin Scheid, 24, who once ran on the Pope John High School track team, won the event with a finishing time of 15:00.3. In second place, a runner registered with the name Miguel McLovin, 20, finished with a time of 16:04.1. And in third place, local Hopatcong runner Joe Prestifilippo, 16, finished with a time of 16:06.2. Lauren Smith, who leads a Weight Watchers group, said none in her running group had a connection to Yaros, but they seized on the opportunity to help out. “We’re of course looking for ways to stay in shape,” Smith said. “But this was an opportunity to work toward that goal while really helping people out, and that’s why we’re here.” In addition to the lead organizers—who included Gordan, Scantlebury, and Dave Barnish, a Hopatcong Hawks Track Coach who worked closely with Yaros—and the core group of 12 or so volunteers who regularly met a few times a month, there were about 40 volunteers in the field who helped keep the event running smoothly on Sunday. Members of CERT and local police also helped with street closings and traffic direction. “It was really something else, the number of people who were involved in one way or another,” Scantlebury said. After the race, while giving away dozens of raffle prizes—from free pizzas to Mets tickets—Scantlebury called out one person in particular. “I had to give a shout out to the ‘mystery landscaper,’” she said. Since Yaros’s diagnosis, her family has regularly come home to see their flowerpots refilled and gardening taken care of, without having any idea of who was doing it for them. “I figured the mystery landscaper must have been in the crowd somewhere, and they deserved a shout out.” From garden plantings to meal deliveries, the Yaros family has received support from the community in a variety of ways. But on Sunday, it came together in the biggest possible showing, with hundreds of runners and walkers supporting “Run for Jordan” t-shirts and giving money to support the family as they fight the battle to get Jordan healthy—and back on the running track. Asked how she felt as she watched the runners cruise by at the start, Yaros smiled. “Awesome,” she said. But, she added, she’s ready to run herself. Donations to the Yaros family are collected by cousin Lori Sanchez, and can be mailed to her at 9 Louis Drive, Stanhope, NJ 07874. For the full results of the 5K race, click here.
Hundreds poured into the Hopatcong High School grounds for Run for Jordan.