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Community Options, Inc., a non-profit organization, is hosting Cupid’s Chase 5K runs Saturday, Feb. 8 in 24 locations in eight states across America, including New Jersey. New Jersey will be hosting Cupid’s Chase runs in six towns, including Burlington City, Glen Rock, Morristown, New Brunswick, Princeton and Seaside Heights.
The Cupid’s Chase 5K originated in Princeton and this will be the sixth year that the event is occurring. This is the first year that Morristown and Seaside Heights are hosting the race. The event is a five kilometer course, which is USA Track & Field certified, and runners, walkers, joggers and rollers are all welcome, said New Jersey’s Regional Vice President of Community Options Svetlana Repic-Qira.
“It is the largest national, simultaneous 5K held by a non-profit. This year is particularly special since we are celebrating our 25th anniversary on Feb. 9,” said Repic-Qira.
Cupid’s Chase 5K runs are also being held in Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The mission of Community Options is to provide housing and employment services to people who have disabilities. Repic-Qira said that all the proceeds from the event will go to supporting people with disabilities. She said that in the past, the funds have been used to purchase furniture, equipment and for recreational activities.
“Fundraising is critical to Community Options particularly for start-up costs for purchasing homes for people with disabilities. We do not receive start-up costs to provide the down payments of homes we are purchasing,” Repic-Qira said.
Last year, New Jersey Cupid’s Chase 5K events raised approximately $25,000, Repic-Qira said. She said that this year the goal is to raise $70,000 from the New Jersey events and a total of $200,000 nationally.
Community Options was founded Feb. 9, 1989 in Bordentown by founder and CEO Robert Stack. Repic-Qira said that he started the organization 25 years ago in his kitchen.
Community Options is currently supporting approximately 300 individuals — 102 in residential homes and 340 in employment services throughout New Jersey, Repic-Qira said. The organization supports disabled individuals who are no longer in state institutions. She said the average annual cost for one person in a state institution is $270,000 compared to the $140,000 it costs to support an individual in the community.
“All individuals, regardless of their disability, have a right to live in the community,” Repic-Qira said.
Repic-Quira said Community Options is pleased with the strides New Jersey is making to reduce the number of people with disabilities that are institutionalized in state development centers by calling to close two developmental centers — North Jersey DC and Woodbridge DC.
“This will provide individuals the opportunity to live in their own homes, control their own lives and be active members of their home community,” Repic-Qira said.
Besides the Cupid’s Chase 5K, Community Options also holds an annual spring event every May. This year, it will be holding a 25th Anniversary Gala at Morven in Princeton May 8. Community Options will be honoring former Gov. Thomas Kean at the event this year.
“Community Options is looking forward to helping many more citizens live up to their full potential by living and working in our communities,” Repic-Qira said.