This year more than ever, people have learned not to take their good health for granted. The Om Foundation continues to use their platform to reach out to the community in hopes of educating people on childhood cancer along with the preventative measures we can all take. These efforts have all taken place after the Parikh family’s 13-year-old son suffered from a rare form of brain cancer which ultimately led to his demise three years after his initial diagnosis.
When asked how Om would’ve reacted to the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainty that comes along with it, his mother, Krupa Parikh, shared “...he would have still stayed positive and optimistic as we all knew him…” She went on to say that during these troubling times, “He would have been a huge support to the kids at the hospital who were equally battling and fighting cancer like him and he would have given them comfort and laughter...with his positive attitude…”
The Foundation was created in early 2018 just a few weeks after Om Parikh passed. The Parikh family along with their team of volunteers have actively worked to continue his legacy through fundraisers, helping other community members in need, and of course, their annual 5K’s. Since the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States and therefore prevented the regular in-person 5K to take place in the spring at Thompson Park, the Foundation has opted to turn this year’s 5K virtual for the fall time. Anytime between Friday, October 9, and Monday, October 12, community members are asked to participate in the event by running or walking any place available to them. To register, use the following link: http://smilesforom.org/runsignup. If you choose to walk, all you need to do is sign up and wear your shirt from the 2019 race during your walk. However, for runners, it is asked that in addition to the steps previously mentioned, that you also print your race bib and track your progress by using the RaceJoy app. Since the race this year is virtual, anywhere in the United States is able to join! Regardless of whichever activity you sign up for, it is strongly encouraged to take pictures whenever you choose to complete your race and check the Foundation’s Facebook page for additional updates.
In order to abide by CDC guidelines, the Foundation plans to keep the entire event virtual (both before and after the races) with the use of Zoom parties. There are two Zoom parties planned, with one of them taking place at 8:00 pm on Friday, October 9, to jump start the weekend’s race and another at 2:00 pm on Sunday, October 17, to close out the event with a celebratory award ceremony. As usual, awards are only for those who run and with the quickest times in certain age categories.
As a little thank you, the Foundation is planning for face masks to be custom printed and shipped to each participant (whether you are running or walking) so be sure to include your mailing address during registration. If you are unable to take part in this year’s race for whatever reason, please feel free to donate, follow the Foundation’s social media, or share this article so others may join. Even though the race was planned within a short amount of time this year due to all of the unforeseen setbacks, it would not have been possible without the immeasurable support from the Foundation’s team of volunteers, town sponsors, and most of all, community members like you. The Parikh family remains eternally grateful that they are able to not only host events like this, but also share their son’s story and hopefully create a lasting impact.
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