On Your Mark! Sprint for Life Needs Runners

Mar 27, 2019

With warmer weather on the way, many people are anticipating putting on their running shoes and hitting the road. Maria Pennisi is hoping such enthusiasts will participate in the Saturday, April 13 Sprint for Life in Ship Bottom, an event she organized 17 years ago to raise money for the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of New Jersey.

The sprint begins and ends at the borough’s waterfront/boat ramp park. Registration is underway for the 5K run, which begins at 12:30, immediately followed by a 2-mile fitness walk, starting at 12:32.

Fee for the 5K run and fitness walk is $24 before April 5 and $29 after that date up until the time of the race. Each participant who registers by April 5 gets a free T-shirt. Walkers and runners 12 and younger pay $17.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a competitive or a casual runner or walker,” said Pennisi. “What’s most important is having fun and helping a very important cause.”

In addition, a “Kidz Mini-Sprint” begins at 11:45. It is open to children ages 4 to 11. The fee for the quarter-mile race is $10. T-shirts are given.

An after-race party will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar in Ship Bottom, where there will be a free buffet and drink specials. Sprint participants pay $5; those who want to attend only the party are admitted for $10.

Pennisi began the event as a tribute to her father, Vito “Vic” Pennisi, who at the time had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. After he died in 2009, she was even more determined to continue the cause.

Since the sprint’s inception, she estimated the event has raised more than $110,000.

“We started out with a turnout of around 200,” said Pennisi, a Manahawkin resident. “Last year, we had about 650 people. We’ve also tried to make the sprint more family oriented.”

She said this year’s race is dedicated to the memory of Diana Sahlberg, an assistant race director since the event’s inception who recently died from cancer..

People can register by logging onto shipbottomsprint.com. Donations can be made at any time to the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of New Jersey by sending them to Pennisi at  P.O. Box 423, Ship Bottom, N.J. 08008.  —E.E.

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