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In My Own Words: Serena Droste '25

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.

Learn more about the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation. 

*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,