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Running for Team Safe Kids New Jersey: Ali’s thoughts & perspective on completing his second marathon

Running a full marathon may seem like an individual accomplishment, but when you’re a part of something like Safe Kids, you are no longer alone on the road. That’s certainly how it felt throughout the week leading up to the race as well as on race day itself.

 If you’ve ever been on a field trip as a child and got worried because your parents weren’t there – but were relieved when you saw the care and focus that you’re caretakers provided – well that’s how it felt on Sunday October 31st! As a dad who’s always looking after details like food, transportation, full tank of gas, spending cash, passports, visa’s, luggage, etc., it was so nice to know that I had a team behind me who was able to help with these details. It made me feel like a kid again, at least for this one day.

Dan Orzechowski and Allison Murphy, Safe Kids USA, looked after every detail to ensure that runners could maintain their focus on the challenge in front of them. From picking up race kits to supplying Metro passes to the runners, Dan and Allison handled it all. On the morning of the race, Carma Hanson, Coordinator, Safe Kids Grand Forks, ND, managed the process of getting us from the hotel to the starting line – right down to bagels and peanut butter for breakfast!!

The morning was pretty chilly and we wanted to get to the race sight at least an hour before the start. All us runners huddled under a big tent and got to know one another. I could tell that each runner was committed to finishing for the sake of the cause. There was no nervousness, no pre-race jitters – just pure courage fueled by knowing why you’re running.

The Marine Corp Marathon is known as the People’s Marathon. The streets are lined with supporters. At no point during the 26.2 mile course are you alone as runners. Supporters stand on the side of narrow bridges just to cheer you on. Of course I wore the Safe Kids t-shirt that was folded and placed in my race kit for me. As I ran by people, especially those with their children in tow, I could see their approval. Many would yell out “Go Safe Kids!!!”, and several reached out for a high-five. There are a lot of charities and other causes being represented by runners in the Marine Corp Marathon, but for me, the support I receive from all the contributing members of Safe Kids have always made me feel directly connected to the cause.

I am looking forward to doing it again next year!!

~ Ali A. Zaidi

The Second Year Running for Safe Kids

Running a 26.2 mile marathon is no small feat. There is a considerable amount of motivational, emotional and physical strength that is needed to cover the distance. For Ali Zaidi, running for a great cause and being a part of Team Safe Kids New Jersey, gives him the motivation to step up to the plate and run the Marine Corps Marathon for the second year in a row.

“The key to success is establishing the right priorities,” says Ali. “I was able to continue my training while meeting all other personal obligations because I put the important people first. And those same important people turned around and helped me achieve my training goals. So here I am – ready to run the Marine Corp Marathon once again”

Safe Kids New Jersey is thrilled that Ali, a resident of Chester, NJ and father of three, will be running again for our kids at this year’s Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC on October 31, 2010.  His only concern this year is that the marathon happens to fall on Halloween. However, since this is his second year doing the marathon, even his family understands the importance of running for a cause like Safe Kids. “When I realized the marathon was on Halloween I approached my family and asked them if it was ok for me to run given that I probably won’t be able to make it back home to New Jersey in time for trick or treating, “ says Ali. “ It’s because of the very warm reception that Safe Kids provided my family with in Washington last year that my daughters said that if my running will help Safe Kids – then I should go ahead and complete the race.”

Completing 26.2 miles is a real badge of honor, but it’s nothing compared to helping prevent a lifetime of suffering for a child with a serious injury. You can support us in our goal of keeping kids safe from injuries every day by contributing to Team Safe Kids New Jersey. We know that what we do works and we need your help to continue our mission. Through our statewide network of local Safe Kids New Jersey coalitions, your contribution will help us educate and protect families throughout our state.

It is fast and simple to support this great cause by making your tax deductible donation online by clicking here.  Or, you can mail your contribution, made payable to Safe Kids Worldwide to:

Carol Ann Giardelli
Safe Kids New Jersey
One Johnson & Johnson Plaza, WH-1305
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08893

Please put “Team Safe Kids NJ State” on the memo line of the check

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress!

Team Safe Kids New Jersey Runner Completes His First Marathon!

SafeKidsMCM

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.

Support Team Safe Kids New Jersey in the Marine Corps Marathon!

Safe Kids is a charity partner in the Marine Corps Marathon, which takes place on October 25, 2009 in Washington, D.C. This race will draw more than 30,000 runners from around the country, including our dedicated runner Ali Zaidi of Chester, New Jersey. Ali was amazed by the work Safe Kids does and approached us to run his first ever Marine Corps Marathon to help raise funds on behalf of Team Safe Kids New Jersey

As a proud parent of three, Ali chose to align his efforts with Safe Kids New Jersey for all the right reasons. “Completing a marathon has always been a personal goal for me,” Ali says. “However, as any parent knows it’s tough to find time to fulfill your personal ambitions. I felt that if I was representing something bigger than myself I could get through the strenuous training.”

Completing 26.2 miles is a real badge of honor, but it’s nothing compared to helping prevent a lifetime of suffering for a child with a serious injury. Read more about our runner Ali Zaidi in the Daily Record and Mendham Chester Washington Township This Week. You can follow Ali’s progress on his Team Safe Kids New Jersey webpage.

You can also support us in our goal of keeping kids safe from injuries every day by contributing to Team Safe Kids New Jersey. We know that what we do works and we need your help to continue our mission. Through our statewide network of local Safe Kids New Jersey coalitions, your contribution will help us educate and protect families throughout our state.

It is fast and simple to support this great cause by making your tax deductible donation online by clicking here. Or, you can mail your contribution, made payable to Safe Kids Worldwide to:

Carol Ann Giardelli
Safe Kids New Jersey
One Johnson & Johnson Plaza, WH-1305
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08893

Please put “Team Safe Kids NJ State” on the memo line of the check

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress!