Vowing to ‘never forget’

Secaucus race helps those who make ultimate sacrifices

The effort to help the country’s wounded service members – and families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice – will have a local aspect to it in mid-September, when a national road race series comes back to town.
The 3rd Annual Harmon Meadow Run For The Warriors, presented by Hartz Mountain Industries, will be held at The Plaza at Harmon Meadow on Sunday, Sept.15 at 8:30 a.m.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit organization that assists post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds serving their country.
Registration for the 5-kilometer race or 1-mile walk/run is $30, with special pricing for service members and students. Several hundred people are expected.
The Secaucus race is one of three in the New York metropolitan area this year, said Anna Seiler, Hope For The Warriors, marketing coordinator. The others are the Big Apple Run in downtown Manhattan and another in Babylon, N.Y. in Suffolk County.
“It’s a really great way, and easy way, for people to give back,” Seiler said.
In keeping with tradition, the event’s opening ceremony will honor local wounded heroes and families of the fallen.
“It’s a good way to bring awareness and community to people who lost a loved one in the area,” Seiler said.
One fallen service member that will be honored at the Harmon Meadow Run is Specialist Rafael Nieves Jr., who was killed in action on July 10, 2011 in Afghanistan. Nieves grew up in both Jersey City, and Albany, N.Y.
“He loved protecting people and protecting his friends,” said Thomas Priolo, stepfather of SPC Rafael Nieves. “His dream was to serve his country.”

“It’s a really great way, and easy way, for people to give back.” – Anna Seiler
“[Rafael’s] young kids won’t remember him because they were so young when he died,” said his mother. “Having this run in memory of Rafael will ensure that they realize that their father was a good man who fought for our country.”
Last year’s Harmon Meadow Run raised $53,000, which was used toward ten Hope For The Warriors programs in Secaucus and surrounding towns. Hope For The Warriors provides a full continuum of care for wounded service members and their families, including programs in clinical case management, employment and education, sports and recreation, and community outreach.
The organization has partnered with Civic Duty Partners and Unico to present this year’s installation of the race.
According to Secaucus Unico President Ed Rucki, the goal of the run is “Service Above Self,” also the motto of Unico.
“America is a place where a family-owned company can thrive and find success,” said Emanuel Stern, president and chief operating officer of Hartz Mountain Industries. “We know that the sacrifices service members make every day have made this possible, and we encourage the community to join us in supporting the Harmon Meadow Run … ”
“We are excited to return to the supportive community of Secaucus,” said Tina Atherall, Hope For The Warriors executive vice president. “The town of Secaucus and Hartz Mountain Industries have granted a great deal of support to honor the sacrifices for our nation’s wounded and fallen heroes.”
The mission of Hope For The Warriors is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
“Hope For The Warriors is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families,” said Mona Sims, race director.
The organization has earned high ratings from Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) for two consecutive years. Charity Navigator is an independent organization that evaluates fiscal responsibility and accountability of nonprofits.
More than 90 percent of donations raised go straight into programs for the servicemen and women, a race official said.
For more information or to register for the race, visit www.hopeforthewarriors.org/harmonmeadowrun.
To learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Sims at msims@hopeforthewarriors.org.
Those wishing to give a general donation should go to the overall website, www.hopeforthewarriors.org. Those wishing to give donations to participating runners in the Secaucus event should go to www.hopeforthewarriors.org/harmonmeadowrun and donate to the specific runner’s fundraising page.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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