WILTON — After suffering the cancellation of several important fundraisers, Circle of Care’s supporters buoyed the nonprofit with their response to its annual 5K event that went virtual this year.

“It was a huge success,” co-founder Liz Salguero said.

Instead of several hundred people running through Wilton Center, Circle of Care had 575 participants from 17 states running or walking May 1-3. There were 45 separate teams that participated including one with 55 members. Donations, not including registration fees, were just under $29,000.

Quite a bit of that can be attributed to $16,000 raised by Zelie and Andy Pforzheimer. Andy had promised to run the event in a dress if he raised $4,000 and Zelie joined in by wearing a potato sack. Both are longtime supporters of the charity that offers emotional and practical support to families facing a diagnosis of childhood cancer.

Across the country, an Appleton, Wisc., family participated, sending a note to Circle of Care explaining why.

“The reason we wanted to participate in the 5K was because Circle of Care really helped our family out during a truly tough time. We moved from Wisconsin to Connecticut in July of 2017. In November of that year, just a few months after our move, our youngest daughter (9 years old at the time) ended up in the hospital, diagnosed with cancer. She has a tumor inside of her spinal cord.

“She spent months in the hospital and completed a year-long chemo cycle. We didn’t have any family nearby and hadn’t had a chance to really make any friends yet, and I had to quit my job.

“Circle of Care paid two months of our mortgage and it made a very stressful situation a little less stressful. We will always be grateful to Circle of Care and appreciated more than words can say what they did for us.

“Kiara’s tumor has been stable for the last year, but it has affected her walking. So, she rolled along on her bike while the rest of us jogged. We ended up moving back to Wisconsin last July to be closer to family and friends, but Yale Hospital, Circle of Care, and all the other amazing organizations we crossed paths with will always be in our hearts.”

The outpouring of community support locally and across 17 states was unbelievable,” said Jeff Salguero, Circle of Care vice president. “Countless people in town were spotted wearing their bibs in a show of solidarity — and good weather!

“More than anything, this event has generated needed awareness to our cause and gives true meaning to the quote we used to promote the event — ‘Social distancing is staying away from people, not your purpose!’

“We are so grateful!”

Lead sponsors of the event included: JP Morgan Chase, Dynamic Edge physiotherapy, Inspira Marketing, St Matthew’s Church, MFT Advantage-Compass realty, Winged Monkey, and CT Fitness Labs.