Summit to honor beloved cop who died in crash with citywide 5K
SUMMIT — It is just one of the many ways this city is remembering the late Detective Matthew Tarentino following his death in a Route 78 car crash earlier this year, but the event officials have planned for this upcoming Saturday would have been right up his alley.
Tarentino, who died May 30, was a "fantastic" competitive runner, according to Summit Police Officer Kathleen Maggiulli. She said he could always be seen running around town and aspired to race a 17-minute 5K, a pace of under six minutes per mile.
"Matt's love of running was definitely something that we took (into) great consideration when deciding what type of event that we wanted, as the PAL, to hold for him," Maggiulli said.
What organizers settled on is now officially the Making a Difference 5K, which will wind through scenic downtown Summit on the morning of Sept. 9, beginning at 9 a.m. It is not just for Summit residents, as Police Chief Robert Weck explained in describing the widespread notes of sympathy sent his department's way after the fatal crash.
"People would write and send us cards that just said, 'I never even met the man, but just watching the videos of him, I just felt like I had to send something, or just acknowledge him and send my condolences,'" Weck said. "We're very lucky and proud to be associated with all the residents of not only Summit and Somerville (where Tarentino lived), but of all New Jersey."
The feeling of inclusion is appropriate. Tarentino was one of the pillars of Summit's community policing unit, fostering relationships within schools and with senior citizens.
"Always had a smile, always wanted to represent the city of Summit and the Summit Police Department in the best possible way, and he did that," Weck said.
As one of many personal touches throughout the day on Saturday, the race will assign the number 121 — Tarentino's badge number — to a participant who runs a 17-minute pace.
All proceeds will go to the Tarentino family. The officer, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of detective, is survived by his wife and three young children, one of them born this summer after Matthew died.
The Making a Difference 5K, which Weck hopes will continue in years to come, also includes a one-mile walk and "fun run." Atlantic Health Systems has signed on as the primary sponsor.
The 5K will be followed on Oct. 1 by Making a Difference Community Day in Summit, to include music, rides, and a parade. At that time, the city plans to rename a street bordering the police station Det. Matthew Tarentino Way.
For more information and how to register for Saturday's race, click here.
Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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