2013-06-12 / Front Page

Friendship Circle event draws crowd of 1,300

Nearly 1,300 people of all ages gathered under sunny skies for the fifth annual Walk4Friends on April 28 at Vonage Corporate Center in Holmdel. The goal of the walk was to raise funds and awareness for the Friendship Circle, a program that provides friendship for children with special needs, but it accomplished much more than its primary mission, according to a press release.

“So many parents came over to us during the event to thank us for dedicating a special day to their children,” said Chanale Wolosow, director of the Friendship Circle in central New Jersey. “Imagine 1,300 people coming to show their support for your child and your family. The parents were beaming with pride and the children with special needs were the spotlight of the event.”

As Mitch Baum, a parent of a Friendship Circle child living in Marlboro, said, “The walkathon was an amazing day. It was touching to see how many people came out in support of the Friendship Circle programs. There were so many things for the kids to do in an environment where they, and their families, can truly relax and enjoy themselves. I am always touched by the volunteers who are part of Friendship Circle; they give their own time to put a smile on the faces of children who otherwise might not have anyone they could call a friend.”

Walk4Friends kicked off with an opening ceremony and pep rally, including a group warm-up led by New York Sports Club fitness instructor Vicki Eisen. The 1- mile walk around the Vonage campus was led by the Marlboro High School marching band. After the walk, participants enjoyed food, rides, games and a featured show by “Cirque-tacular acrobats,” according to the press release.

Among the guests were Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen and Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto.

“The outpouring of love from the community to support the Friendship Circle was truly amazing” Cohen said. “So many volunteers give of their time to make this program possible and so many more were responsible for the success of this important event.”

Volunteer Alyssa Sperling, a student at Marlboro High School who spoke during the opening ceremony, said, “Through Friendship Circle, I have learned that the greatest gift one can receive is the gift of giving to others. Sam, my special friend, has taught me everything I know about friendship.”

Walk4Friends has raised more than $130,000 toward its goal of $150,000 needed for Friendship Circle programming, according to the press release. Money raised goes directly to fund the social and recreational programs for children with special needs. To learn more about the Friendship Circle, visit www.friendsnj.com or call 732- 536-2319.

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