WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Over 400 participants are expected to come together in northern New Jersey on Saturday for a race which will honor the short life of one local man and simultaneously provide hope and aid to the family of young boy from the same town.

The second annual Born To Run 5K is an event which honors the memory of Wayne resident and Bruce Springsteen fan Bruce Eckrote, who died suddenly from esophageal cancer at the age of 55 – just five weeks after he was diagnosed with the disease – in the end of 2009.

Several months after his death, two of his four children, Dan and Marissa Eckrote, spearheaded an effort to create an event which would not only raise awareness of the disease, but serve as a memorial to their father while raising money for the town they grew up in.

Prior to his death, Eckrote frequently ran around Wayne’s Packanack Lake – the same route race participants will follow on Saturday.

“My dad really enjoyed running, he ran around the lake three or four days a week,” Dan Eckrote told CBSNewYork.com. “We wanted to continue what he was passionate about, so we thought combining this race in his memory and giving back to the community was a way to keep his memory alive.”

After raising $10,000 in 2010, the committee behind Born To Run has expanded this year’s list of charities which will benefit from funds raised.

In addition to benefiting the Bruce Eckrote Memorial Fund and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, proceeds from this year’s race will also go to the family of Steven Domalewski, the teenager from Wayne who remains unable to walk on his own after he was struck in the chest by a ball while pitching a youth baseball game three years ago.

“Just like last year when we gave money back to the community, we wanted to put a good core of the money towards somebody local in need,” Eckrote said, pointing out that, as a volunteer baseball coach, his father had actually coached Domalewski at one point. “That’s something my dad was passionate about, the community, especially people that needed help.”

To give to the Bruce Eckrote Memorial Fund, or to register to participate or volunteer for the Born To Run 5k, click here.


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