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Seventh Annual Action for Distraction 5K Held to Benefit Atlantic Health System’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital

June 5, 2019

Money raised for gaming consoles, TVs, and art and pet therapy

Morristown, NJ – The eagerly awaited 2019 Action For Distraction 5K fundraiser for Atlantic Health System’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital, held on May 4 at Loantaka Brook Reservation in Morristown, had 423 runners participating and raised approximately $20,000.

The event has raised more than $150,000 since the inaugural 5K six years ago.

The annual race was started in 2013 by Long Valley teenager Zach Rice when he was just 10 years old. Zach spent significant time in the hospital for a condition known as avascular necrosis, which followed a severe hip joint infection ultimately causing death of bone tissue due to interruption of the blood supply.

One of Zach’s doctors, Barbara Minkowitz, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Atlantic Medical Group helped diagnose the condition as part of his medical team. Dr. Minkowitz has become heavily involved in the fundraiser, “It has been an honor to help take care of Zach and a privilege to be a part of this wonderful event. I am passionate about promoting pediatric bone health within our community and happy to support Goryeb Children’s Hospital.”

While in the hospital, Zach distracted himself from his environment by playing video games--and he realized that other children in the hospital could similarly benefit.

The idea for the fundraiser was his own and Zach worked with his family to make his goals a reality. Even in its inaugural year, Zach made his own pitches to businesses and sponsors with an external fixator device on his hip. He also has brought in friends from school to help out every year.

The money raised at the Action For Distraction 5K is supplemented each year by the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center’s Kids4Kids Committee, which has donated flat-screen TVs to go along with the gaming consoles. In addition to providing young patients with video game systems, the yearly funds from the committee enable the hospital to invest in art and pet therapy.

But the benefits of the 5K go beyond the financial. Every year, the event honors one child in the community who has been helped in some way by Goryeb Children’s Hospital. This year’s honoree is Stephen Murray, a senior at Morristown High School who is on the autism spectrum in addition to being a runner, skier, singer in the school choir and member of the National Music Honor Society.

Stephen Murray honored at Action for Distraction 5K

The Action for Distraction 5K has become so popular that a spin-off fall event, called the Skeleton Run was added last year. Zach’s younger sister, Mackenzie, has become more involved through the years and she plays an intricate part in organizing the Skeleton Run.

This year’s spooky event will be held on October 19 on a more challenging, hilly course at Central Park in Morris Plains.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health needs, including 12 urgent care centersAtlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.