Sherman Survives Near-Death
BY LAURIE GORDON
HAMPTON, NJ--Christmas comes twice a year in Sussex County. For the fifth year, the Christmas in August 5K was held at Swartswood State Park on Thursday evening, August 19. Though Boonton's Gary Rosenberg was the champion, he had to share the spotlight with another victor: five-year-old Bradley Sherman.
For years, Sherman, who lives in Budd Lake, has admired the way his soon-to-be-stepfather, Peter Varney, has run, so this June he ran in the one-mile fun run that accompanies the annual Stillwater Stampede Five Mile, also held at the Park. But there's more to this child's story. The fact that Sherman was even able to step to the line is something amazing. Last year, he fell out of a second story window and nearly died. A guardian angel saved him as his head landed on a garden hose that happened to be out on a hard stone patio. After weeks in the hospital, Sherman was released, and though he had a trach tube in his throat for months and will have the scars of it forever, he will be fine. Varney and Bradley's grandmother, Karen Cascella, also of Budd Lake, had the idea to see if Sherman liked running. "I thought it would boost his self confidence after the accident," Cascella said. It did more than that. He crossed the line of the one-mile event in June saying he could have gone farther.
On this Thursday evening, running with little training and on sheer determination, Sherman completed the 5K course. He was last, but he didn't care. Over 200 runners and spectators cheered him to the finish line in front of the park's pavilion. Varney finished his own race then backtracked to run Sherman in. "I was sure I'd find him walking," Varney said, "But he was running and was loving it."
"I liked that it was Christmas," Sherman said, "And I like to run just like Big Pete [his nickname for Varney]. This is fun and I'll be back."
The annual Christmas-themed race attracted a record crowd, and Summer Santa and his elves created a festive atmosphere complete with decorations, holiday music, postrace Christmas cookies, and goodies wrapped around a fast 3.1-mile race.
Rosenberg had a decisive win, running the 5K course in a blazing 16:44. "I know the course and it's a great one," said the 33-year-old manager of the Morristown Running Company. He said he enjoys coming to the Christmas race each year for the atmosphere and energy of the environment that's created with music and costumes. "It's a good course and a fun race," he said. Last year, Rosenberg was second to Olympian Marcus O'Sullivan. Said second place finisher, Jeff Staple, of Hamburg, "Rosenberg is a strong runner. I was pleased with my race and the theme is something really unique to find at a running race."
Bonnie Linton of Hackettstown had a strong win on the women's side, but second place came down to the wire as Kelly Polisin of Warren and Amy Meir of Morristown battled right to the line.
"I really enjoy the theme races," Linton said. She always brings her parents to her races to cheer for her and they were delighted to see how a theme race adds to a running race environment. "It makes it fun for the runners and spectators," Linton said, "It's great to get to hear Christmas tunes in the middle of the summer." Linton completed the course in 18:34.
The next theme race, the Beach Blast 5K, will be held on December 18 at 1 p.m. in the Park. It's an island theme wrapped around a 5K and there is at least one incentive. If you run in a bathing suit, your entry will be reimbursed at the finish line. Register at www.active.com or call (973) 383-7933.
1. Gary Rosenberg 16:43
1. Bonnie Linton 18:34