What a difference a year makes.

Last year, Wilton ran a 5K to support the medical needs of Anna Getner, a 10-year-old Wilton girl who was diagnosed with leukemia in Nov. 2013.

This year, the 5K is being run in support of Circle of Care, a CT organization started in Wilton that helps families of children fighting cancer. It’s being organized with the help of some of Anna’s family, and will be run on Saturday, Sept 12 in Merwin Meadows.

“I was planning on doing the event we did last year again, but life just got busy,” says John Schiaroli, Anna’s step-father, who organized last year’s run. “When Liz [Salguero, the founder of Circle of Care] approached me about doing some sort of fundraising event, regarding a race, to see if I was interested in helping, I said, ‘Why don’t I just hand off this race to you.’”

Schiaroli took the role of race director and Circle of Care staffers and volunteers figuratively ran with it. That worked well for everyone. As Schiaroli says, orchestrating an effort as large as a 5K race is just one way they’re able to return all the goodwill that Circle of Care has given Anna, her mother, Heather, and him.

“We were delighted to do that. Our thoughts, anyway, were giving a lot of the proceeds to Circle of Care because they’ve done so much for us. They just did a room makeover which was a life-changing experience for Anna. So many people we could never repay or thank enough, but it’s very meaningful to be able to help them out in the only way I knew how. We were happy to work with them,” Schiaroli explains.

It’s also gratifying to know how many people the effort is going to bring to support what Circle of Care does for other families like theirs.

“What they were able to do for Anna, they were able to do not just because they wanted to, but because they had the wherewithal and the financial means to do so. So being able to help them do those things for other families and for other children in our community and around our community was the only way I could say, ‘Thank you.’

Anna is feeling better these days, although she isn’t done with fighting the leukemia. “She started Middlebrook this week with all her friends. She went away to sleep-away camp this summer and she absolutely loved it. She’s very much enjoying being a regular kid,” Schiaroli says.

Health-wise, she’s still receiving treatment including chemotherapy and monthly visits to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. But it’s all in the hopes that by spring 2016 she’ll be cancer-free. “Doctors don’t feel there’s any reason to believe that things won’t continue to go in the right direction, but you won’t know until you get there,” he adds. “Overall, she’s super happy, she feels great, she loves being back in school, she loves being able to do things she hasn’t been able to do in almost two years, stuff you take for granted.”

Schiaroli reports that there are almost 100 runners who have registered for the 5K–but of course they’re hoping for more people to take part. Organizers are hoping to make this a regular event and are looking forward to adults and kids alike to come out and take part.

Circle of Care provides direct emotional and financial support to families facing pediatric cancer in Connecticut. Organizers say the 5K will rally community support for children with cancer in a positive way that breaks with stereotypes, enable Circle of Care to build awareness of what they do and how they support families.

GOOD Morning Wilton is honored to be the media sponsor for the event. The lead corporate sponsors who are making the event possible are Northwestern MutualGault and Winged MonkeyBlue Buffalo is sponsoring the Kids’ Fun Run.

The race will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12 starting in Merwin Meadows (Lover’s Ln.). Check-in/registration begins at 7:30 a.m.; a Kids’ Fun Run begins at 8:10 a.m. and the Race to Care 5K will start at 8:30 a.m.

Online registration has begun at the race website. Registration is just $25 per person or $10 for a child doing the Fun Run, with all funds going to Circle of Care’s programs that directly impact children with cancer in our community. Runners that raise $250 or more will have their registration fee refunded on race day.

Modest cash prizes will be awarded for the race, which will be timed and USATF Certified. There will be prizes for Best Team Spirit and Best Fundraiser as well as cash prizes of $100 for first, $75 for second and $50 for the third place runner.