Youth raise funds for mission trip in Father’s Day ‘Cicada Run’


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.

Ready, set, run! Mayor Tim Dougherty starts the preliminary, one-mile race for younger runners. Sharon Sheridan photo

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.

Occasional MG photographer Paul Hausman promised to bring up the rear behind any lagging runners in the race, and earned a special T-shirt for his role. Sharon Sheridan photo

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.

A cicada checks out John Dyer's beard. Sharon Sheridan photo

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

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.”

Parishioners of all ages turned out to support the youth group at the St. Peter's Episcopal Church fun run. Sharon Sheridan photo

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.”


Red-eyed cicadas added a unique element to the Father's Day fun run. Sharon Sheridan photo
St. Peter's youth group members pose with their Topsail mascots before the 5K fundraising race for their mission trip. Sharon Sheridan photo

St. Peter's youth group members and their adviser applaud their fun run supporters. Sharon Sheridan photo
St. Peter's 5K organizers and supporters pose for a celebratory photo. Paul Hausman photo
From left, Mary Dougherty, St. Peter's Assistant Rector Melissa Hall and Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, honorary race captain, relax before the race at Lewis Morris Park on Father's Day. Sharon Sheridan photo
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