This sixth year of the Alyssa Barberi 5K Butterfly Run/Walk attracted more than 100 registered participants, ranging in age from seven to sixty.
“We even have members from Key Bank here today,” said Alyssa’s mom, Susan Barberi. “It’s nice to have the community members here and involved and keeping Alyssa’s memory alive. Even after ten years, we still get so many people.”
The roster on that clear, brisk October day at the Chester Academy included 41 runners and 51 walkers. The run/walk was organized by the Chester Academy Class of 2020 and the Alyssa Barberi Memorial Foundation to honor a beloved Chester student who died of the flu in 2009, at age 11. Proceeds from the race fund an annual scholarship.
Participants received special butterfly pins, purple net butterflies with an orange ribbon.
“The purple is Alyssa’s favorite color, and the orange is in memory of Danny Mulvey,” said Barberi. “They were friends, neighbors and classmates, and now they’re angel mates. We keep Danny and Alyssa’s memories together.”
Angella Laing-Rodgers said she came to support the Barberi family.
"I knew Alyssa," she said. "She went to school with my children, and it’s a great cause."
Youngsters also appreciated the race. Andrew MacEntee, 11, said, “I try and do my best to do my best.
He said he participated “because of all the things Alyssa has done for the school.”
Justin Clark, 9, from Chester Elementary School, said, “It’s a good cause so you can get more healthy.”
Evan Morgan of Chester came in first overall.
"I’m here to definitely support a good cause for the community," he said. "It’s a good local race and a nice trail.”
Chester Academy was represented by Ryan Stover, football coach and teacher, and Coach Joe Clarke.
“I’m here to help out," said Clarke. "It’s just a great cause. I work in the building so I just want to help the community.”
Thanks to all who helped
Barberi thanked participants and donors for making the event a success.
"I would like to thank everyone for attending the event and honoring Alyssa's memory," she said.
She named Jenny McKenzie, adviser to the Class of 2020, and the Chester Academy Class of 2020 for their help during the event, and the Chester Union Free School District for allowing use of its facilities; the Chester ShopRite for donating bagels and bananas, and Bella Luna Restaurant for donating food served after the run/walk; and Colonial Lanes Bowling Alley and Thrive Body Fitness donating raffle prizes, and the Lesko family for donating pumpkins. She thanked Marybeth Guerra, Robin Brusca, and Sely Lopez for their help in setting up, serving food, and cleaning up.
The run/walk will be held again next year on Saturday, October 17, 2020.
Alyssa Barberi attended school on Friday, March 6, 2009. That weekend she felt ill and was taken to the doctor, who thought it was a cold or virus. Two days later, on March 8, 2009, she died. Subsequent tests determined that she had Influenza B, which had also attacked her heart, causing myocarditis.
“It’s nice to have the community members here and involved and keeping Alyssa’s memory alive. Even after ten years, we still get so many people.” --Susan Barberi