Residents of Somerset County can show their Valentine’s Day spirit this February by supporting people in that area with special needs
From Feb. 13-Feb. 21, residents will be able to participate in the 13th annual Cupid’s Chase 5K, an event held by Community Operations, Inc., to raise money to help meet the needs of people dealing with significant disabilities in their everyday lives.
Community Operations, Inc., has organizations in 11 states around the country. The company’s focus is centered around helping individuals with significant disabilities find forms of residential housing, employment, day programs, and other individualized programs to meet their needs.
Hillsborough stands as the location of the Somerset County offices in New Jersey for the organization.
Executive Director Maria Bowles hopes there will be over 100 residents in the county participating in this year’s event.
“With the event being virtual this year, we hope to have 100 runners or more,” she said. “We want to spread awareness for the opportunities we provide to people with special needs. This is a great event to be a part of.”
Registration for the race is $30 and other donations are welcome.
All participants will receive an Under Armour participant shirt, finisher medal and a bag.
Age group champion medals and trophies will be distributed to those who qualify.
According to Bowles, there are currently 29 participants signed up for this year’s event that will be held virtually due to health and safety concerns revolving around COVID-19.
The event usually takes place on the same day in all 11 states, but the county will hold its event for a period of eight days since it is virtual, allowing people to have the flexibility to run when they can.
Because residents will have over a week to run in the race, they can participate more than once and send in their best time.
The race window closes on Feb. 22.
The Cupid’s Chase 5k is a “nice fun family event”, said Bowles, who believes that it can still be despite its virtual nature.
“Because it’s flexible, people can run on their own or they can do it together with other family members,” she said.
Over the years, the event has provided different speakers and activities to people in attendance.
State politicians and town mayors have been on hand to speak at the event and send the runners off to begin the race.
Local food stores such as ShopRite and Stop & Shop have supplied bananas and granola bars to participants and those in attendance.
Sponsors for the event are also on hand and have a booth set up for the public to come to, as well as activities like yoga that people can partake in.
Last year’s event raised more than $100,000 and had 4,000 runners take part in the race around the country.
Bowles said that Somerset County has raised $9,800 so far this year. All the money that the Somerset County office raises will go towards helping individuals in the area that the organization works with.
The individuals will have the decision of how they would like to use their share of the donations, Bowles said.
In the past, Bowles said individuals have used the profits to buy something they want for their place, participate in a certain activity or use the money to go towards an event or on a trip that they haven’t been able to take part in. A trip to Disney World or a cruise has been something that many of the individuals have used the money toward, she said.
No matter how much money the organization raises with its Cupid’s Chase, Bowles believes that those who participate in the event will show their clients that people are still thinking about them during these tough times.
“For them, it’s about people still helping them get through these tough times,” Bowles said. “They’re still a priority.”
Participants can register for the event from now until Feb. 21. Runners will receive a shirt that says “Unavailable” or “Available” depending on their marital status. Bowles adds that it is encouraged for participants to post on social media that they are running in the event and wear their shirts if they have received them. Shirts will be shipped out this weekend.
First, second and third place winners will receive a trophy. The results will be announced on Feb. 22.
For more information, visit www.comop.org/cupidschase.