What’s your superpower? That question was being answered by more than 100 people who participated in the Laps for Livie fundraiser run that was held by the Bordentown Area Running Club (BARC).
The event was created in honor of Olivia Sotak, a 20-month old child from Bayville, who is the niece of BARC member Kellie Rendina Mench. Olivia, who goes by the nickname Livie, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer after a scan this past winter showed a cancerous germ cell tumor on her spine.
Decked out in superhero costumes and superhero clothing of any kind, participants ran over 340 laps combined around the newly renovated Joseph Lawrence Park to help BARC raise $5,021 to support Olivia and bring awareness to all forms of childhood cancer.
“It was a great day,” BARC President William McBride said of the April 23 event. “We had over 100 people run in the event. We came in with a goal of raising around $5,000 and blew past it. It was incredible.”
Having joined BARC in the fall, Mench saw the running club have great success with its Pinktober event in October to raise $5,500 for breast cancer research.
That success prompted Mench to approach both McBride and BARC Vice President Emily Rossini about the idea of doing a run this spring in honor of her niece to raise money to help her family with medical costs and bring awareness to childhood cancer
McBride and Rossini were both on board with the idea and all three parties began planning the event.
“We have been wanting to explore more outlets to raise money for after having success with Pinktober,” Rossini said. “This was a great way for us to expand further than where we were and also help one of our members.”
Laps for Livie became a superhero-themed event because of Olivia’s love for Wonder Woman; she dressed as Wonder Woman each time she went through her four rounds of chemotherapy.
Because Olivia’s superpower is fighting cancer, BARC proposed the question “What is your superhero power?” as a way to promote the event and get people into the superhero spirit.
“She’s such a trooper,” Mench said of her niece. “She’s very spirited. We call her our Wonder Woman.”
A variety of family activities, live music, pizza and other refreshments were available during the event for everyone who wanted to be a part of the fundraiser in any way.
All participants in the race received a LIVIE STRONG T-shirt as well.
As a way to push for more donations leading up to the run, BARC members like McBride sent out challenges through social media to people that they would run a certain amount of miles for an amount of money donated to the fundraiser.
“Creating a personal fundraiser to share with others was really fun,” Rossini said. “We had one member run 24 miles. Some ran 10 to 15 miles. A lot of our members ran the most they have ever had. It was a great way for them to compete with themselves and learn from each other.”
Inspired by the toughness and fight of her niece, Mench pushed herself to run over seven miles at the event.
Having the honor of starting the race off was Olivia’s brother, Matthew, who led the participants around the park for the first lap of the run.
Bordentown Township Mayor Steve Benowoitz was also in attendance and gave a few remarks before the race, added McBride.
All of it meant so much to Mench, who said Olivia’s parents, Katie and Mark, are so grateful for everything BARC and the Bordentown community have done to help them in their time of need.
“It meant the world to my family and myself,” said Mench. “All the money raised will cover what (Olivia) needs. It’s really amazing.”
BARC, formerly known as the Clifton Mill Running Group, will be celebrating its third anniversary this July.
The organization is taking donations towards Olivia’s fight against childhood cancer through April 27.
To make a donation, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/NJ/Bordentown/LAPSFORLIVIE?fbclid=IwAR0LyEc_qEMnvbSHfy8QSuNnoIGGzxnSMcvqTptZnwjyvzDA-FEMrwJ0m9o