Weather update: As of Sunday morning, with rain predicted for the day, the Kids Fun Run and 5k race are still scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., according to the Miles for Matheny website. However, Matheny also advised those registered for those events to use judgment and discretion regarding their participation. Barring a change in the forecasted weather, the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk will be staged from the gym at the Municipal Building across from Liberty Park, to start at 1:00 pm and follow the traditional walking route through Peapack-Gladstone. "Please note that we are making every effort to ensure that our residents and students will be provided with a safe and secure environment. We will make any other changes that we feel are necessary the morning of the event," said the Friday statement from Matheny.
The 15th annual Miles for Matheny, a widespread community event as well as a fundraiser for the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, will return to Liberty Park in downtown Peapack this Sunday, and will once again draw participation from residents, including students, from Basking Ridge and the rest of the Somerset Hills.
Matheny has been located for more than 50 years in Peapack-Gladstone, but the Miles for Matheny event itself draws its lifeblood from Basking Ridge and beyond. This year, the event will return to its original location at Liberty Park after two years at Natirar County Park. Registration and check-in will begin at 9 a.m.
The day's centerpiece event, the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk, is named in honor of the late Basking Ridge resident Lu Huggins, who initiated the outdoors activity to bring residents of the medical center out into their community. Huggins, who spent time in a wheelchair herself, was an active volunteer and supporter of Matheny.
And each year, many students from nearby schools, including runners from and Bernards High School, sign up for the morning's running, cycling and walking activities that preceed the community picnic.
As of Thursday, the participants who were signed up included Team Kids, made up of Ridge track girls who had raised $2,415; Cory Mazen, a teacher at the Bedwell Elementary School in Bernardsville who had raised $1,760; and Team Schapiro, a family from Basking Ridge, tallying up $1,275 in donations, according to Matheny spokesman Sandy Josephson.
Edana Desatnick of Basking Ridge, mother of Bryan Desatnick, a 20-year-old resident at Matheny, said her family would be participating on multiple levels. the entire family would accompany Bryan on the Wheelchair Walk, she said, and the other family members would join other activities.
She said she herself would take part in the 5K run, even though she is not a runner. "But I have always said that for Matheny, I will do anything," she said Thursday night.
Team Desatnick had raised $2,625 as of early on Thursday, Josephson said.
"Coming back to the heart of the village will be a treat for Matheny’s students, patients and families, as they missed the warmth and support of local residents, who often waved and cheered from their porches as the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk made its way around town," said the announcement of the event from Matheny.
The move back to Main Street was accomplished with the support from the leadership of the four Peapack-Gladstone houses of worship, who worked with Matheny’s administration to adjust starting times and make other changes so that local residents would not be hampered in getting to Sunday morning services, Josephson said.
Shuttle bus will be provided all day from the parking lot at Pfizer, Inc. at 100 Route 206 north in Peapack-Gladstone.
As a result, the signature activity, the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk, this year will start at 1 p.m., preceded by the 5K race at 12:15 p.m. and the Kids Fun Run at 11:30 a.m. The five cycling courses, which take place mainly outside of town will take off between 10 and 10:45 a.m. On-site registration will begin at 9 a.m.
Matheny also would like to thank the Peapack-Gladstone Borough Council for unanimously approving the move back to town and the many Peapack-Gladstone residents who spoke in support of the event at the December Borough Council meeting, Josephson said.
Edana Desatnick said she believes community members have been more supportive than ever this year, and the family even has raised more in donations.
"The community cares so deeply and so many people want to do what they can to help," Desatnick said.
She said her family credits Matheny will handling Bryan Desatnick's medical issues. As a child, she said, he had attended through the fifth grade. But she said his increasingly medically complex problems led the family to conclude he would be better off receiving advanced care at Matheny.
Desatnick said she considers herself lucky to live just five miles away from Matheny, and she often visits her son and other residents at Matheny.
"I really believe that's a place filled with angels from heaven," she said of Matheny.
Matheny is a specialized hospital and educational facility for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. All funds raised at Miles for Matheny will help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny inpatients and to people with disabilities in the community, according to Matheny.
In another change this year, the day's traditional celebration picnic following the Wheelchair Walk will take place in Liberty Park instead of at Matheny. Food and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.
The Friends of Matheny, Matheny’s auxiliary group, will sponsor the “Breakfast of Champions,” and the Bernardsville Rotary Club will again be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs.
In addition to food furnished by Matheny and its food sponsors, some local businesses such as Cesar’s Corner Deli and Dominick’s Pizza will be offering food for sale.
Gladstone resident Bill Simpson, who designed the challenging Hills of Attrition cycling course, said, “Everyone is excited that this event is coming back to town. When the wheelchair walk goes through town, it is an extremely emotional experience.”
And Matheny adult patient Chris Saglimbene added: “There’s nothing better than walking downtown and seeing people cheering for us.”
The four major activities at Miles for Matheny are:
- The Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk. Non-runners and families can enjoy fun and fitness walking alongside more than 130 Matheny students and patients and their families as they navigate 1.5 miles around Peapack. WCBS-TV sports anchor Otis Livingston and WCBS Newsradio 880 anchor Wayne Cabot will be on hand to host the festivities and walk with the wheelchair participants.
- 5K Road Race. Between 300 and 400 runners will race in this USATF-NJ NBGP 500 point event. Runners will travel through Peapack-Gladstone on town and rural roads.
- Cycling Routes. Cyclists will have a choice of five different routes through the picturesque Somerset Hills, designed to accommodate participants at all levels. A highly challenging climbing cycle route, “The Hills of Attrition,” designed by Simpson, will test even the most seasoned cycling veterans.
- Kids Fun Run. Children ages 3-10 will enjoy friendly competition in which they are all winners. For many, it will be their introduction to “running for a cause.”
Major Miles for Matheny sponsors are: The Poses Family Foundation; Foundation; Archer & Greiner, P.C.; B.P. Fueling Communities; WCBS-TV and WCBS Newsradio 880; Partlow Insurance Agency; Peapack-Gladstone Bank; and Porzio Bromberg & Newman, P.C.
For more information or to register, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.
The decision to bring Miles for Matheny back to the center of town has been welcomed by participants and supporters, Josephson said. Scotch Plains resident Donna Merer, whose daughter Allyson is a residential student at Matheny, said, “It’s great the way people come out of their houses and cheer the Matheny students and patients on.”