WEST ORANGE, NJ - On Sunday, September 16, 2012, hundreds of supporters turned out to participate in the Second Annual Stop for Nikhil Walk/Run at WOHS. $40,000.00 was raised to provide music scholarships to students and help promote traffic safety awareness.
Nikhil Badlani,11, of West Orange, died in a car accident on June 11, 2011 when a driver failed to STOP at the intersection of Wyoming and Lenox in South Orange. An aspiring musician and a straight-A student, Nikhil was talented, brilliant, and loving. The event is named in his honor.
His parents, Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani, along with friends and supporters, launched the annual 'STOP for Nikhil 5k Run/Walk' in honor of their son and to raise traffic safety awareness. The couple's second son, Anay, is seven years old.
Lisa Renwick of West Orange spearheaded the walks in cooperation with the Badlanis and the Nikhil Badlani Foundation. Community support has been overwhelming.
"The failure of a driver to come to STOP took the life of our son," said Sunil Badlani. "While we cannot bring him back, we can help save other lives by encouraging drivers to observe the state's motor vehicle traffic laws. Nikhil spoke very passionately about how some drivers did not respect the rules of the road. On the day of the accident, he had commented on how a driver was speeding. It's unfortunate that just a few hours later, he became a victim of careless and distracted driving. His loss must not be in vain and should be an awakening to all drivers. Our goal is to spread the message to drivers everywhere to take their role behind the wheel seriously, and that STOP means STOP," said Sunil Badlani.
In Nikhil's memory, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation provides academic scholarships for high achieving seniors and individualized music lessons for underserved and talented students.
"Nikhil was a gifted musician who loved to play the piano and the trumpet. A few weeks before the accident, he had been accepted to play in the Youth Orchestra of Essex County Orchestra. His achievement inspired us to offer music lessons to talented children who do not have the means to pay for (OR private music lessons) musical training outside of school. Nikhil is irreplacable but he will live on through the music of other children and the work of the Foundation," Sangeeta Badlani said.
Assemblyman John F. McKeon and West Orange Mayor Robert D. Parisi participated in Sunday's run.
"The 2nd annual STOP for Nikhil 5K Run/Walk coincides with the release of a new report that shows that motor-vehicle deaths in the nation went up by eight percent in the first seven months of the year to reach an estimated 20,880 through July. These findings increase the urgency of saving lives. I commend Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani for transcending their personal grief and loss and dedicating themselves to increasing traffic safety awareness. The high energy and turnout on Sunday shows the incredible support for increasing driver safety and for the Badlani family," McKeon (D-Essex\Morris) said.
According to a report released on September 13 by the National Safety Council, 11.8 deaths were reported per 100,000 population between January to July 2012, which is an increase of five percent from 2011. Medically consulted motor-vehicle injuries went up 11 percent to 2.1 million. The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage through July was $152 billion, which is a 15 percent increase from 2011.
“In Nikhil’s spirit, we are reminded that even the shortest of drives, most routine of our daily journeys, must never be taken for granted and that the failure to observe a traffic signal or road sign can cost a life," Mayor Parisi said. "The 2nd Annual STOP for Nikhil 5K Run & Walk demonstrates the strong sense of community in West Orange which makes us rally together in difficult times and to do the right thing. By increasing traffic safety awareness and calling on drivers to STOP for Nikhil and to take the safety pledge, we are doing the right thing."
Nikhil's brother Anay read the 'STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge' to observe the state's motor vehicle laws and pay attention to road conditions and traffic signs. The pledge includes, "I will come to a complete halt at every STOP sign or red traffic light and will not proceed through a red traffic light." It also includes a promise to refrain from texting while driving and to only talk on a hands-free cell phone and to plan ahead and leave enough time to reach one's destination. Over 500 have signed the pledge so far.
For more information on the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, please visit: