Interact Club attends the GCSSEF’s annual Autism Color Walk and 5K Run


Courtesy of Ms. Deborah Barr

Susannah Lieberman (‘25), Madelyn Leshinski (‘25), Sarah Cohen (‘25), Alana Rellosa (‘25), and Chris Shin (‘23) pose for a picture after the award ceremony.

On Sunday, May 21, East’s Interact Club attended the Gloucester County Special Services Education Foundation’s (GCSSEF) annual Autism Color Walk and 5K Run. After raising $3,000 earlier this year for the foundation, GCSSEF president, Mr. Tom Storer, invited Interact to the 5K event.

Storer was aware and greatly appreciative of the donations, so much so, that he personally invited Interact and provided a bus for convenient transportation. As it happens, President Storer of the GCSSEF was also East’s acting Vice President in 2017 and 2018 while the school was waiting for someone to officially fill the position. He informed Ms. Deborah Barr, Interact’s advisor, about the GCSSEF and its efforts to help children and families of children with Special needs. Interact raised $2,000 and attended the 5k in 2018 but, until now, they haven’t taken part in the event since.

Barr was excited to accompany Interact and support the GCSSEF for Interact’s second year. “It’s so amazing to be able to see the families and students that you are helping. All the things [the GCSSEF] provides for them are incredible. They do so much for these kids and the families are so appreciative,” said Barr.

Interact left East around 8 am on Sunday morning and arrived at Rowan College’s Gloucester Campus around 8:45 am, welcomed by balloons, raffles, food, and packs of color powders given to each person. The race included volunteers, family members, children, adults, and members of the Camden County College Police Academy. Whether people in the crowd were walking a mile or running the 5k they were happy to be there supporting the foundation and all that it does.

When it was time to begin, everyone counted down and at zero the color powders were thrown into the air, engulfing the crowd in a rainbow of shades. The runners, including multiple Interact members, were off and anyone walking followed behind them at a slower pace.

Toward the end of the event, they handed out awards to race winners and baskets to raffle winners. Interact dominated the race with 5 members who received awards for their times including Sarah Cohen (‘25), Susannah Lieberman (‘25), Madelyn Leshinski (‘25), Chris Shin (‘23), and Alana Rellosa (‘25) who won first place in the women’s category and second place overall.

Sydney Herring (’25), Esperanza Modino Sanchez (’25), and Sarah Cohen (‘25) are pictured after the race.

“I feel great and I’m really proud of all of us,” said Rellosa after completing the race.

With great weather and a crowd of people running beside them as motivation, Rellosa, Lieberman, and Leshinski felt lucky that they got to participate in the event with Interact.

Lieberman said, “It’s a beautiful day to run, especially for a good cause!”.

She and Rellosa go on to express their interest in running again next year because of Interact’s involvement this year. “This was a great introduction to the 5K world. Everyone around us, especially all of the Police Academy members, really pushed us to run faster,” said Leiberman.

All the money brought in through the GCSSEF’s annual 5K benefits local programs such as Social Skills, Respite Care, Community Workshops, and Miracle League for the Special Needs Students in Gloucester County.

With another GCSSEF 5K in the books, Barr and Interact hope to participate again!