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Team Safe Kids New Jersey Runner Completes His First Marathon!


Ali Zaidi (back row, right) and other Team Safe Kids Runners at the Marine Corps Marathon

Ali Zaidi of Chester, New Jersey, ran in the Marine Corps Marathon on behalf of Team Safe Kids New Jersey. We asked Ali to describe his experiences running his first marathon and why he partners with Safe Kids.

What inspired you to run in the marathon on behalf of Safe Kids New Jersey?

As a father of 3 children, ages 9, 11, and 17, I’ve always recognized the dangers that surround our children. Whether it’s the safety of my own children or someone else’s, I’ve always been very sensitive to those dangers. Knowing that there exists a group like Safe Kids that makes it a full-time job to keep children safe compelled me to align my efforts with theirs. While time can be considered a currency, there is no better currency than currency itself. The hours I spent running 26.2 miles raised currency that Safe Kids can apply where it’s best utilized.

Do you think you will stay involved with Safe Kids?

Absolutely! The people at Safe Kids welcomed me with such open arms that I want to stay connected. As a member of the community that has been served by Safe Kids and as someone that has been touched by their hospitality – I’m definitely going to stay involved.

How did it feel to run your first marathon?

At the starting line it was like knowing that sometime during the next few hours I’ll come within an inch of my life. As scary as that seems, I couldn’t help but think about the children that come within an inch of their lives every day. At that point I just wanted to hear the starters’ pistol sound off.

What kept you going during those final miles?

I thought about crossing the finish line as the release of funds from my financial supporters went into the capable hands of Safe Kids, and that kept me going. There was no question in my mind about crossing the finish line, whether it was going to be in full stride or on hands and knees.

Are you planning to run again on behalf of Safe Kids?

Yes! I’m going to try and make the Marine Corps Marathon a regular event. I’d also like to find some half-marathons where Safe Kids can be represented.

How did you gather funds and exceed your target?

I was surprised how quickly contributions were being made. In fact, I had increased my target a few weeks before the marathon and still exceeded it. I attribute part of that to the user-friendliness of the convio website provided by FireFly. The biggest success factor was my family and friends. Some of them distributed my “initial ask” email to their family and friends and that created a snowball effect. In two instances donors saw that I was short of my target and pledged an amount that enabled me to reach that target. I also had two articles appear in local newspapers featuring my efforts with Safe Kids. This further increased the awareness.

What did you learn while training for the marathon?

Confronting my own weakness was always in the forefront. Whether it was regrets about a skipped breakfast or wishing I drank more water – you will definitely acknowledge them. I also realized that there is a need for increased involvement from companies. Johnson & Johnson is the model of excellence when it comes to integrity and “giving.” I feel other companies should follow suit and recognize their obligations in keeping children safe.

You can still donate to Team Safe Kids New Jersey by clicking here.

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