Ten years ago, a young life ended suddenly in a tragic accident in South Orange. As the community reeled in grief, the family of Nikhil Badlani, age 11, quickly worked to ensure that Nikhil would not be remembered in sadness but in joy.
Nikhil’s parents Sunil and Sangeeta Badlani and his brother Anay formed a foundation in Nikhil’s name and began the work to campaign for pedestrian and traffic safety with the “Stop for Nikhil” campaign, as well as provide scholarships for young people who excelled as students, musicians and performers — just as Nikhil did.
On Friday, June 11, Nikhil’s family marked 10 years since his loss by observing a moment of silence at the intersection where the fatal accident took place, South Wyoming Avenue and Lenox Avenue in South Orange, at 2:45 p.m. — just as they have done every year since his death. This year, musician Dillan Gajarawala played “Taps” and Maria Nalieth sang “Amazing Grace.”
The Township of South Orange Village also unveiled a sign naming the intersection as “Nikhil’s Way.”
Nikhil’s mother Sangeeta described him as “kind, passionate about music and academically gifted. He touched many lives when he was among us and continues to do so even now through the Foundation. He is greatly missed and loved by all.”
“The Village officials wanted to memorialize this specific location to reflect not only was this the site where the tragedy occurred 10 years ago, but how important it is for all of us to be regularly reminded of the importance of being extremely careful while driving and taking the appropriate cautions, particularly in trafficked areas that are shared with pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles,” former South Orange Trustee Steve Schnall told Village Green,. “We support the incredible foundation named in Nikhil’s memory that brings such goodness, although it originated from such a tragic loss.”
At the event, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey told the Badlanis, “I’m going to just speak from my heart to you. As a mother, I know … I don’t know how painful this is for you. But I so respect that you have taken your pain and moved it into something to help others.”
The mission of The Nikhil Badlani Foundation is to expand and enhance the lives of underserved children in West Orange, New Jersey – Nikhil’s home town — and neighboring communities through individualized lessons for talented musicians, scholarships for graduating seniors, and traffic safety awareness and education for all.
Help Nikhil’s family keep their promise to Nikhil by signing the pledge to drive safe here: