Yesterday on a stunning late summer morning, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation hosted the second annual Stop for Nikhil 5K Run/Walk at the West Orange High School stadium. The event was held to honor 11-year-old Nikhil Badlani of West Orange, who died in a car accident on June 11, 2011, when a driver failed to STOP at the intersection of Wyoming and Lenox in South Orange. Nikhil was an aspiring musician and a straight-A student, described by friends and family as intelligent, loving, helpful and kind.
The high school stadium was pulsating with high energy and to the beat of Nikhil's favorite songs. Over 700 people were present and received a bright yellow T-shirt that promoted the foundation's traffic safety message – “Drive Smart. Save A Life.” The chairperson of the event was Lisa Renwick. An opening ceremony hosted by Marci Echeverria included remarks by Nikhil's parents Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani, West Orange Mayor Rob Parisi, Assemblyman John McKeon, and Transportation Safety Advocate Pam Fischer, and featured music by the West Orange High School marching band and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Troop 6, Nikhil's Boy Scout troop. Nikhil's brother Anay led the crowd by reciting the Safety Pledge to Nikhil. The pledge is an oath to STOP COMPLETELY, STAY ALERT, TALK SAFE, and PLAN AHEAD when driving. You may take this pledge online at http://nikhilbadlanifoundation.org/safety-pledge.phphttp://nikhilbadlanifoundation.org/safety-pledge.php. The ceremony concluded with Sangeeta Badlani presenting the Nikhil Badlani Foundation's 2012 Inspiration Award to Sean Squires, a sophomore at High School, in recognition of his courage, perseverance, and giving hope and strength to others.
Following the run and walk, a series of fun run dashes for younger children were held on the football field. The morning concluded with an award ceremony for top finishers in each age group for male and female. The Foundation raised approximately $40,000 to put toward its efforts to promote traffic safety, provide music lessons to talented underserved children, and contribute to academic scholarships for graduating seniors in West Orange.