Story by Kristina Hoti
The morning of Sat., Nov. 10 was a frost-tinged but sunny day for the Dream Dash 5K, a fundraiser for Warwick Playground Dreams (WPD). The event was held in the Wickham Woodlands, located on State School Rd. in Warwick. Beginning at 7 a.m., volunteers were in place to register and check in the runners and the race itself kicked off at 9 a.m.
Warwick Playground Dreams is a non-profit organization made up of community volunteers who are working together to raise funds for a full refurbishment of the playground at Stanley-Deming Park. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Dream Dash will go towards the new playground, which will be built in April of 2019. The new plans for Stanley-Deming Park will not only provide updated, safe equipment for the playground including a special area for tiny tots, but will also offer ADA-accessible features to accommodate children of all abilities. Plans for the improved playground include wheelchair transfers onto the equipment and an accessible merry-go-round and tractor, one of many nods to Warwick’s agricultural community.
Approximately 90 runners were registered for the Dream Dash according to one of the event’s lead organizers and WPD committee member, Christy Mills-Biondi. Mills-Biondi worked along with Carrie O’Brien, Ally Metcalf, Adrienne LePre, and WPD President Hannelore Chambers to develop the route of the run, coordinate volunteers, and ensure that runners’ needs were met from registration through the finish line.
“I feel thankful to have been a part of the planning and organization; so thankful for the crew of ladies that worked so hard on this and to the community for their response to us and the project,” said Mills-Biondi.
Local businesses provided donations of food and services. Greenwood Lake Bagels, Daisy Baked, and Greenwood Lake Roasters provided food and coffee, and LKQ Transport loaned two semi-truck tractors for “touch-a-tractor,” to keep the little ones entertained. Accucare Pediatric Nursing and Homecare sponsored a first aid tent for the event, Warwick EMS was at the ready, while the Warwick Town Police closed the roads and ensured safety during the event. Melissa Shaw Smith, of Wickham Works, volunteered her time and energy to provide silk-screened shirts for the race participants.
The Dream Dash 5K, in the spirit of the goals of the new playground, was an inclusive run/walk/roll event, with a shorter “fun run” available for the smaller children.
WPD President Hannelore Chambers said, “When we first thought of organizing a 5K, we wanted to make sure it was an inclusive event for everyone to come out and enjoy the beautiful Wickham Woodlands together.”
Among the volunteers was Warwick resident and WPD Committee member, Carly Foster, who, in classic mom-on-the-go fashion, wore her two-year-old daughter, Alora, in a carrier, both bundled against the chill, as she passed out water to runners.
“It was a little more blustery than we expected, but we improvised and had a great morning. The spirit of the runners, walkers, and strollers was uplifting,” Foster said.
The chilly air did work more to the runners’ advantage, however. Dream Dash runner and local family doctor, Joe Chavez Carey, placed fourth in the race.
“It was a really nice day,” said Carey. “Great weather, and brisk – good for running.” When asked why he ran, Carey responded, “I really think we need to update our playground at Stanley-Deming Park, especially in this day and age when [kids] need to spend more time outside and be more active in a fun, safe, and accessible environment. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time and energy, to donate and help as much as I possibly can.”
Terry Penetta was the first-place male winner and Jamie Szapka was the first-place female winner.
For more information, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit www.warwickplaygrounddreams.com.