JEFFERSON – The Junior Woman’s Club of Jefferson Township held its annual Memorial Wrobo 5K Run/Walk Sunday morning, attracting more than 200 participants.
According to event chairwoman Amy Begley this year’s event has seen more participants than ever before.
The club has hosted a 5K for 15 years and has dedicated the race to the memory of USMC 2nd Lt. John T. Wroblewski, an Oak Ridge resident who died in 2004 while serving in Iraq, for the past nine years. Wroblewski’s family, parents, Shawn and John and three brothers were in attendance.
“Small-town America is wonderful,” said Shawn as she greeted well-wishers and neighbors. The Wroblewski’s have lived in Jefferson for more than 30 years.
“It’s a great honor and tribute that is paid to our son,” said John.
“For us it’s emotional, especially when you see the outpouring of support and seeing the Marines here. If not for the support of the Marine Corp and the township we would not make it through this tragedy.”
The Seeing Eye, a nonprofit that breeds and trains guide dogs for the blind, and the Jefferson Township High School Senior Scholarship Award are this year’s beneficiaries, with 80 per cent of the proceeds going to the Seeing Eye.
Before the start of the race, a color guard unit from the Marine Corp League Slattery Detachment #206 from Whippany presented the colors and stood at attention while the Brown sisters from Jefferson, Morgan, 11, Madison, 15 and McKenna, 14, sang the National Anthem. Shawn Wroblewski, the official starter of the race, used a rifle provided by the one of the marines from the color guard and shot a blank into the air, starting the runners and walkers on their way.
Once again, runners from Palisades Park High School dominated, with Carl Desrosiers, 15, finishing first and Arianna Lopez, 15, the first female to cross the finish line.
For novice runner Kristen Rounsaville from Lake Hopatcong finishing the 5K was not the challenge. Her challenge was to keep running, to not walk any part of the race, even when she and two dozen other participants encountered a large black bear lunching at the dumpsters at one local church and the local firehouse. According to Rounsaville many people did take a break from the race, stopping long enough to snap a few pictures of the large bruin.
At the closing ceremony, Lt. Wroblewski’s father, John, thanked the runners, the Junior Woman’s Club and the township for their support.
“Jefferson Township makes sure our son is not forgotten,” he said.
Runners head out from the start on Weldon Road.
Jeannie Phillips, right, a volunteer speaker representative from the Seein Eye, introduces three Seeing Eye students.
Carl Desrosiers, 15, from Palisades Park, approaches the finish line.
Kyle Peter with Jefferson FD Co. #2 carries fellow fire fighter Kaitlin Ventrice across the finish line. They ran together in full turnout gear then Kaitlin hopped aboard for a ride for the last 200 yards of the race.
John Wroblewski speaking to runners and walkers after the race.