What started as a way to support a young boy’s road to recovery after a tragic accident has become an “end of summer party” for all of Haddon Township.
It’s been 21 years since 11-year-old Tony Tassogloy fell while playing outside in a friend’s yard, hitting his head on a cinder block concealed by leaves. Tassogloy broke his neck and suffered nerve damage.
Only months after the accident, the community organized a 5k race—“Run for Tony”—to raise funds for his continued medical care. And to this day, the community has not forgotten.
“Tony is 32 years old now. There are people who remember him as an 11-year-old boy” said Township Commissioner John Foley, who is also helping organize this year’s race, set for next Wednesday, Aug. 28. “When the race first started, it was the best example of neighbors coming together. That’s been the case all of these years.”
Foley said he sees the race, ultimately, as a big “end of summer party” for the township.
Tassogloy said it’s always amazed him, ever since the race first began, how many people—many of them strangers—come out for the event each year.
“It means a lot to me that, after all these years, people still come out to help me,” he said. “And they don’t treat me like a charity case. They treat me like anyone else. It’s actually raised my self-esteem.”
The 5k continues to raise money for its namesake—it typically brings in between $4,000-5,000 each year, according to Foley—though Tassogloy’s needs have changed over the last two decades.
The Friends of Haddon Township collect the money, with some of the funds still going to Tassogloy’s medical care, while the remainder is put toward “other worthwhile causes,” said Foley.
Though he’s been unable to attend the race the last few years for medical reasons, Tassogloy said he plans to make this year’s run.
“This run means a lot to me,” he said, noting his participation in the 1-mile fun run that precedes the 5k. He drives his chair and chats with friends and neighbors."The one thing that's really built me up into the man I am today is that I allow the community to ask me anything they want," he said, adding later, "If I can inspire one person, that's what I'm happy about."
The event kicks off with a 1-mile fun run at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28, followed by the 5k at 7 p.m. The early registration fee is $20. Day-of registration is $25.
Runners can sign up at Haddonfield Running Company this Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. And the Taproom will have signup sheets available the day before the race, next Tuesday, from 5-8 p.m.