Photos: Smile 4 Riley Draws Crowd to Memorial Park
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UPDATE: More than 200 people have already registered for the Smile 4 Riley run/walk at Memorial Park Saturday, according to organizer Christine Turner.
And those interested in participating who have yet to sign up "can absolutely register the day of," she stressed.
The registration fee is $15 for individuals, $30 for groups of four to six people, and $50 for groups of six to 10.
In addition to the 1.6-mile run/walk, there will be plenty of other activities, entertainment and appearances, including:
- The Rush School Music Makers will perform, as well as Cinnaminson High School student Evan Fleming (who also sang at the 9/11 ceremony at Wood Park).
- There will be bounce houses, face painting and other fun activities for kids.
- Sen. Diane Allen will read the proclamation naming April 20 Riley O'Brien Day.
Registration is from 8-9 a.m., with opening ceremonies beginning at 9. Arrive early, Turner suggested, because shirts are limited.
Additional parking will be available at Cinnaminson Middle School, and the district is providing buses to take people to and from the park, she added.
To register for the race, download the attached PDF.
Riley O'Brien isn't from Cinnaminson. But on April 20, Cinnaminson will make him one of their own.
Four-year-old Riley, of Somerdale, suffers from heterotaxy syndrome, a rare birth defect affecting the heart and other organs. The young boy recently underwent major surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to have three of his organs replaced, and now the family is in search of a new home because their current one contains mold and is unsafe for Riley to live in. But they need financial assistance to help them pay off their current home and afford a new one.
That's where Christine Turner and Lauren Neidert come in. Neidert, of Cinnaminson, heard about Riley's story after his mother called into a local radio station and was immediately moved.
"I want to help this family. I want Cinnaminson to help this family," she said, during a township committee meeting Monday night in which she was frequently moved to tears.
Neidert immediately reached out to Turner—who has organized the annual Cinnaminson Park Cleanup Day the last three years—to figure out what they could do to help.
On Monday, Neidert and Turner got township committee's blessing to dedicate April 20 in Riley's name and hold a fundraiser/run at Memorial Park that day to help the O'Briens find a new home.
Neidert and Turner are not the only ones supporting the O'Briens. Several other like-minded people in the area have also organized fundraising efforts.
"(The event) will put Cinnaminson on the map for doing something great for this little boy that really needs help," she said, adding, "This is a strong little boy. He deserves all the glory, and his family."
After hearing about what the Cinnaminson women were planning, Riley's father, Darren O'Brien, responded via the family's publicist: "We are overwhelmed by the strangers and a town that are coming together to help my family. There are no words to express all the emotions that we have experienced because of strangers, starting with the parents of a young child who gave their child's heart and lungs to save my son Riley. Thank you to everyone."
Neidert and Turner are currently seeking sponsors, as well as volunteers, for the event. Neidert said any business that donates more than $150 will have their logo printed on T-shirts for the event, or be featured in some other way.
Some of the details are still being finalized, but Neidert said there will be a $10 fee (for an individual runner) for early registration, a $30 fee for groups of four to six people, a $50 fee for groups of six to 10, and a $15 fee for registration on race day.
The T-shirts are included in the price of registration, and there will be plenty of other activities and entertainment provided at the event, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon. Model Emily Sandberg, who has also taken up Riley's cause, will appear at the event as well.
Anyone that would like to register or be a sponsor should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The registration and sponsorship forms will be available within the next couple days. Registration forms can be sent to Smile4RileyRun, 1909 Washington St., Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.
For more information, contact Lauren Neidert (609-217-4880) or Christine Turner (609-405-3953).
To learn more about Riley and his family's story, visit their website.