In a Father’s Day outing that could have been dubbed the Cicada Run, members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the wider community participated in a walk and “fun run” at Lewis Morris Park on June 16 to raise funds for the church’s youth group summer mission trip to Topsail, N.C. A portion of the funds also will benefit Abdulai’s Project, which builds homes in remote areas of Sierra Leone.
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty blew the whistle to launch a group of young, one-milers, then navigated the route with his wife, Mary, and a crew of other walkers. Afterward, he presented medals to the young race winners: Grace Hooker, 13, first place; Hannah Griffee, 14, second place; and Hazel Griffee, 9, third place.
Later, 22 runners raced around Sunrise Lake on a 5K route. In the youth division, Katherine Hall-Lapinski, who runs cross country at Newark Academy, took top honors among young women, followed by Eleanor Meli and Nina Meli. Among the young men, 16-year-old McLane Fleming crossed the finish line first, followed by RJ Meyer and Julian Cantu.
Among the adult women, Joanna Pask won first prize, followed by Gabrielle Meyer. In the adult men’s division, Randy Potella proved fastest, followed by David Joyal.
A loud cicada chorus cheered on the walkers and runners, and the gold-winged insects landed on more than one participant, eliciting either “eeks” or excited interest, depending on the landing site. One of their more popular targets was the hat of John Dyer, carillonneur at St. Peter’s.
The Rev. Melissa Hall, church youth group leader and assistant rector, awarded Dyer a special medal for the most laps walked during the afternoon. His wife, Jennifer, was honored for raising the most money – $1,000 – in pledges for the mission trip.
On June 29, the youth group members will leave for their second mission trip to Topsail, where they will tackle home repairs for needy elderly residents. They will bring along three blue hen mascots, who put in an appearance at the race, and post photos and blog about their experiences on MorristownGreen.com.
Dougherty said he was happy to spend part of his Father’s Day supporting the youth group before heading home for a family barbecue. “It’s all part of being part of the community.”
Local churches “really are the catalyst that reaches out,” he said. Any time they reach out to him for support – especially when it involves young people – “I’m going to be there, no matter what day it is. It’s about the kids, especially their trip to North Carolina.”
“This is all the stuff that really doesn’t get recognized, but these are the important accomplishments of congregations, building the character of the youth,” he said. Taking time to walk with the youth is “a good reminder of being a father and being responsible.”
With fatherhood, he said, “comes an important responsibility to teach and to be an example to our youth.”