By Aaron Carney

For commuters, crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge can be tricky. But for the participants in the Annual Student Nurses Association Bridge Walk on Oct. 30 however, crossing the bridge was a treat.

Dozens of people gathered at the Rutgers-Camden Campus Center early Sunday morning for breakfast and games as they prepared to make the three-mile trek across the bridge to help raise money for Camden’s Center for Family Services. The CFS is a non-profit organization that handles everything from domestic violence prevention to food donations at local pantries.

Christine Abacan, a senior nursing student at Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden, organized this year’s event and said that it’s always a fun time for a great cause.

“For us it’s just kind of a way to have a presence in the community,” said Abacan, 21. “We’re very grateful that the city of Camden allows us to have this university here, so for us as an organization, our mission is to give back to the community. Being the only student nurses group on campus, we wanted to promote health and wellness and this is kind of like an exercise program. It gets people together to build this community of health.”

The walkers included students, alumni and friends and family of SNA members, all of whom paid $20 to participate. As they arrived at the Rutgers-Camden Campus Center they got a healthy breakfast, raffle tickets for a basket drawing, and the opportunity to play games such as Kan Jam. Each table in the waiting room was decorated with a pumpkin that participants got to take home if they wanted.

Abacan said she tried to schedule the event at a time where it wouldn’t conflict with other fundraising walks.

“October is a very popular month for different walks, so I wanted to schedule it at a time where it would stand alone,” Abacan said. “Once I picked a date and time, I mass emailed the entire school of nursing and posted fliers all over campus, I had faculty members reach out through their email server and we recently opened a Twitter page for the School of Nursing and our PR specialist posted on their as well.”

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(photos and video by Aaron Carney)

Jennifer Hammill, the Associate Vice President of Development and Public Relations at CFS, was one of those making the long walk across the bridge along with other CFS workers. She said that the event was her first time walking the bridge since she was a student at Rutgers-Camden.

Hammill said the SNA has been a consistent and reliable donor every year. That is important, she said, since the center needs as much money as it can get to cover the costs of their many services.

“Our services really run the gamut.We’re focused on helping people of all ages,” Hammill said. “We run the Early Head Start program here in Camden County, and we’re working with the city’s youngest learner to help prepare them for Kindergarten. Our focus is long-term success.”

In a way, the SNA and the CFS have very similar goals. They both are focused on not only improving lives, but also putting people in a position to improve their own situations. All of that was on display at the bridge walk, as those who participated got in their daily exercise for the benefit of others.

“Really what our services are about are improving people’s lives and connecting people with services and supports to make a positive impact on their lives,” Hammill said. “We’re connecting them with opportunities to improve their lives, and the goal is to help them be successful so they want to continue down that road and follow the path to a self-sufficient future.”