Lucas Monserrat '17, Obi Nnaeto '18, and Shea Smith '18 are just three of more than two dozen college athletes using the Greig Center over their winter break to stay in shape.
By Serena Droste '25
I have been involved in the John Taylor Babbitt (JTB) Walk with Heart Foundation for over 10 years. I would always either run or walk the course with friends, family, dogs, and people who I got to meet. I knew that it meant a lot to my family, and because I had been going since I was born, I knew the purpose and what it meant to everyone. I always knew it was for a good cause, and I really felt like I needed to take part in the action.
I personally knew the Babbitts, and my mother [Upper School Director Ananya Chatterji] had taught John '07. My whole life my mom told me the Walk was for something good. I had always watched the seniors talk about it at the Lower School as well as at the Walk itself, and I had a lot of questions and I was very curious.
Last winter, I contacted Mr. and Mrs. Babbitt, telling them about how I love going to the Walk and suggesting that they could come to me if they needed any additional help or support.
They asked me if I could go around the town of Basking Ridge (coincidentally, the town I live in), where the Upper and Middle School campuses are located and where the Walk takes place, requesting that people participate, and asking store owners if I could hang up the flyers on their bulletin boards. They also suggested that I talk to Mr. Corvino, the Lower School Director, and ask if I could sponsor a Dress Down Day.*
I was overjoyed to be asked by Mr. and Mrs. Babbitt to help out the Foundation. So, I did what I was told. Mr. Corvino told me I could sponsor the Dress Down Day, and recommended I make a flyer, explaining what the goals of the Foundation are.
Speaking of which, these are the JTB Foundation's goals:
• It works to install defibrillators (AEDs, or Automated External Defibrillator) in places of public assembly, meaning largely populated places where someone could have a heart episode at any time. Also, the Foundation works to propose legislation to support the placement of AEDs. This means persuading (presenting to) government officials that AEDs are necessary.
• It establishes clubs, known as Heart Clubs, in schools and colleges to increase awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and save lives.
• It supports medical research on genetic cardiac disorders that increase the risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
I sent Mr. Corvino the flyer, and we picked a date for the Dress Down Day. Mr. Corvino also told me that the Lower School's yearly assembly about the Walk was coming up! So, I joined the Pingry seniors to present to the Lower School students about Walk with Heart. I was excited to be able to run an assembly with the seniors! I talked about my experience with the Walk, and what the JTB Foundation does by reading my flyer.
When the day of the event came last May, it went amazingly! A lot more people attended the Walk from the Lower School—even people in my grade— than last year.
For over 10 years, I have walked those two miles, maybe in my mom's arms, in a stroller, or maybe on my own two legs. But I always have fun! I am so glad I got to have a more active role in the Walk last spring. In the past, I arrived at the Walk, enjoyed it, and never knew how much time went into the planning beforehand. I know there are still hundreds of hours I have not seen, but now I am starting to understand how hard it is to work for the Foundation. I really hope to continue my involvement while I am in the Middle School and Upper School.
*A Dress Down Day is a day during which Pingry students may "dress down," wearing casual clothes not part of the School's traditional dress code. Students may request a Dress Down Day to encourage fellow students, faculty, and staff to support a cause of their choosing, in exchange for the opportunity to dress down.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org