Music filled the air at West Orange High School Sunday morning as the community gathered to
The first annual Stop For Nikhil 5K walk/run honored 11-year-old Nikhil Badalani, a West Orange resident, who was . Proceeds from the event benefited the Nikhil Badlani Foundation started by his family and friends shortly after the accident.
During the brief ceremony prior to the run, Nikhil’s 7-year-old brother, Anay, read a traffic safety pledge that guests were encouraged to sign.
Visiting from India, Nikhil's grandmother, Shobha Mamtaney, cut the ribbon to kick off the 5K race.
Friends and family danced to Nikhil's favorite song, "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga, celebrating Nikhil, a talented musician, who had been accepted into the Essex County Junior Symphony prior to the accident. Nikhil was a student at Thomas A. Edison Middle School.
"A lot of life's lessons come as quick reminders," said Parisi. "Sometime life's lessons come at a very significant price."
Roughly 650 participated in the event, including Mayor Robert Parisi, Superintendent Anthony Cavanna, members of the board of education, township council and Boy Scouts Troop 6.
Event organizer Lisa Renwick did not release how much money was raised from the event but said the group, "exceeded their goal."
Nikhil's mother, Sangeeta Badlani, was amazed by the large turnout. "That was Nikhil," she said, just as the sun peeked through the clouds. "It's a testament to what he was."
For more information, visit the Nikhil Badlani Foundation.