Community gathers to remember a special girl at Alyssa Barberi Run/Walk

Runners, walkers, and generous businesses helped make this annual event a success

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  • Some of the top finishers pose with Susan Barberi, from left: Erin Dunn, Teri Sadlier, Shawn Mundy, Barberi, Stephen Elter (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Runners take to the rain-slicked road (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Andrew MacEntee (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Joe Clarke, the teacher who won first place overall with a speedy time of 23:59 (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Teacher Kevin Hannon, left, who came in second with a time of 24:06 (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

“Thank you all for your love and support. Hope to see everyone again next year.”
Susan Barberi

By Ginny Privitar

— Dozens of runners and walkers gathered on a cold, rainy Saturday morning to support the Alyssa Barberi 5K Butterfly Run/Walk.

Alyssa Barberi was a sixth-grader at Chester Elementary School when she died suddenly, at age 11, just two days after her last day at school. That weekend she felt ill and was taken to her doctor, who thought she had a cold or virus. Two days later, on March 8, 2009, she died. Subsequent tests determined that she had influenza B, which had also attacked her heart, causing myocarditis.

Alyssa's memory lives on in her family, friends, and fellow classmates, who meet every October for the run/walk to honor her memory.

The 2018 winners were:

First place overall: Joe Clark, age 28, with a time of 23:59

Second place overall: Kevin Hannon, age 56, with a time of 24:06

Third place overall: Paul Miedema, age 40, with a time of 24:55

The first female runner was Raquel Colin of Chester, age 35. With a time of 24:57, she came in fourth place overall.

The first youngster to cross the finish line was Andrew MacEntee, age 10, with a time of 29:52.

Ten-year-old Ava Troop finished at 48:45.

Andrew MacEntee said he was there "to support Alyssa Barberi.” His dad teaches at Chester Elementary and also ran the race.

Chester teacher Kevin Hannon also participated.

“Yeah, I was lucky," he said.

But another teacher, Joe Clark, beat him.

"I let him win so he can brag to his students," Hannon said with a laugh, then added, “No, he ran a good race.”

Clark, who is from Maybrook, said he joined the race “to help support a good effort here.”

“I try to run one race a week, just to stay in shape,” said third-place winner Paul Miedema. "These causes always touch my heart, and I like that it’s a fundraiser.”

From 10 to 65Runners and walkers from age 10 to 65 participated, including young mother Stephanie Steiler, who pushed her son Troy in a stroller.

The event organizer was Alyssa’s mother, Susan Barberi. She thanked everyone for braving the wet weather and supporting Alyssa's memorial scholarship fund.

“Regardless of the rain, we had 36 runners, about 20 or so walkers and many supporters who attended the event and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate,” said Barberi, who also founded the scholarship fund. “It was a fun day filled with awards, delicious food from Bella Luna Restaurant, and raffle prizes.”

She offered special thanks to All County Window Cleaners for covering the expense of the tee-shirts, and to Bella Luna Restaurant for donating the delicious food everyone enjoyed. Bella Luna was Alyssa's favorite pizzeria.

Barberi also thanked Colonial Lanes in Chester and Chrome Salon in Florida for contributing raffle prizes and Chester Fit Body Boot Camp and Chester ShopRite for their own generous donations.

“Thank you to those families who were unable to attend the event, yet contributed monetary donations,” Barberi said. “Thank you all for your love and support. Hope to see everyone again next year.”

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