Monroe Community Planning to Gather for Second Annual Om Parikh Memorial 5K
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Om Parikh, a positive and energetic child commonly referred to as Optimistic Om, was stricken with a life-changing cancer diagnosis at the young age of 10 after having recurring headaches.
Om was treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with both radiation and chemotherapy treatments. All the while, Om kept a smile on his face and went through this cancer journey with a mindset of positivity and optimism.
Receiving one of his final wishes, Roman Atwood (popular YouTuber) surprised him and vlogged the experience. Since then, the video titled, “His Dream Came True!!” has been viewed over 1.7 million times. Om battled brain cancer for nearly three years before sadly passing on February 7, 2018. However, he has left a lasting impact on the Monroe community and continues to be a role model for teenagers and younger cancer patients.
Family and friends have turned their pain into change for other kids diagnosed with cancer. Through their own generosity, the Parikh family started a foundation in memory of their son called The Om Foundation.
Through this foundation, the Parikh family is able to provide scholarships to the Class of 2022 (Om’s graduating class), supply financial aid to other cancer patients, help programs with positive goals, and raise awareness about various childhood cancers.
In the first year of the foundation being operated, the Parikh family were able to create two murals inspired by Om’s spirit, donate a LEGO table to the children’s section of the Monroe Township Library, sell T-shirts with the Opt-OM-istic Om logo, as well as raise money for cancer research through various fundraisers such as sales at the middle school. The foundation’s overall goal is to enlighten others about the effects of cancer and help fund research and prevention programs to help prevent having another child go through a similar cancer journey.
Photo: Nazli Mohideen Designed and painted by older sister, Yashaswi Parikh, 19, the Optimistic Om mural symbolizes Om’s love for literature and his ever-growing positivity.
This year, the event is scheduled for May 19, 2019 from 7:30-10 am. The event, hosted in Thompson Park, will include speeches, an award ceremony, a 1M walk, as well as a 5K run. Participants will also receive a T-shirt and goodie bag for attendance. Medals will be awarded to runners in each age bracket following the 5K run. Early registration ends on April 30th and participants under the age of 18 pay half price so be sure to reserve a spot as early as possible.
Additionally, Sparsh Shah, 15, is scheduled to deliver a speech to attendees. Originally from New Jersey, he was diagnosed with Brittle Bone Disease, a rare condition in which an individual’s bones are substantially weak. He has shared his inspiring story through music and is a well-known musician, more specifically, a rapper.
Team Senators at Monroe Township Middle School, the team Om was on in eighth grade, helped in the preparations for this event last year. They helped create inspirational quote water bottle wraps, designed positivity posters that were displayed throughout the school, and helped package all of the race’s goodie bags. This team’s effort was a vital part in having this event take place.
At the 2018 run and walk event, over 1,500 community members attended in support and helped share Om’s legacy. Sign up fees allowed the foundation to raise over $63,000 which in turn, was used to donate $47,000 to help cover medical bill costs for other cancer patients and went towards the different projects in which the foundation participated in throughout the past year. Through this foundation, the Parikh family is able to create change for other cancer patients and also inspire young kids to overcome adversity with positivity. Join the race and help make a difference for others in the fight against cancer today!
Go here for more information: https://smilesforom.org
Om Parikh Memorial 5k: https://runsignup.com/Race/NJ/MonroeTownship/Om5K