Annual race raises funds for college scholarships

Whether participants walk or run in the seventh annual John Zumbo Race, taking place this Sunday, Oct. 7, at Bruce Park, they will help contribute to a college scholarship that will be awarded to one lucky Greenwich High School senior.

The annual 5K walk/run was established in 2006 by Providence Zumbo, the mother of town fitness guru John Zumbo, who died in a tragic car accident the same year.

According to Ms. Zumbo, her son was a well-known personal trainer and owner of Physique Transformations, where he guided customers of many different levels, lifestyles and backgrounds. A man with a great personality who “loved life,” her son, she said, was an inspiring leader in health and fitness. After his untimely death at the age of 28, Ms. Zumbo said, she knew she had to do something to preserve her son’s memory.

Having been a member of a scholarship committee in the past, Ms. Zumbo reached out to the Greenwich Scholarship Association (GSA), a nonprofit umbrella organization that awards need-based scholarships from numerous local sponsor organizations.

The aid the association gives to college-bound students in financial need is “a wonderful thing” and something Ms. Zumbo wanted to be involved in, prompting the establishment of the John D. Zumbo Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is managed by GSA and whose goal is to annually award a scholarship to at least one GHS senior, she explained.

In order to raise money for the scholarship fund, Ms. Zumbo happily joined forces with Threads & Treads, a sporting goods retailer that hosts a number of races each year, for the Jingle Bell Jog, held each December.

After raising funds in conjunction with Threads & Treads for a few years, Ms. Zumbo decided she had learned enough about organizing a race to institute her own walk/run, which would pull in more financial aid specifically for the memorial scholarship fund, she said.

Realizing that December was too cold a month to ask supporters who were not avid runners to participate in the race, she moved it to October and has since gained a loyal following of about 175 supporters, including many of Mr. Zumbo’s friends, family members and neighbors, who come from all over the East Coast to participate in the event.

Mr. Zumbo would have “just loved” the race, his mother said.

Since the establishment of the John D. Zumbo Memorial Scholarship Fund, 10 GHS seniors interested in a career in fitness or the medical field have been awarded college scholarships as a result of the race, she said.

Distributing the scholarships is a rewarding experience, Ms. Zumbo said, and a great way to remember Mr. Zumbo for all the great work he did in his short life.

When students know the community is willing to help, it pushes them to work harder, she added.

“You feel as though you’re contributing to the community.”

Registration is still open for the seventh annual John Zumbo Race, which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 9 a.m.

The race will start on Woods Road at the picnic area in Bruce Park and cover the distance of 5K, winding around a series of ponds, hills and naturally wooded areas that overlook the Indian Harbor. Runners, walkers, strollers, and pets are all welcome, and T-shirts will be given to all registrants, with prizes awarded in several categories.

Small children may race for free in their own competitive event to be held at the picnic area.

All those interested in fitness and having fun are welcome to join in the event. Registration may be done online prior to the race at Zumboscholarship.com or on the day of the event.

 

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