Bergen Residents in the News
An all-star athlete from Rochelle Park and a local chef/mom from Hillsdale make national headlines this week.
Last week, one of the biggest headlines out of our neck of the woods was that actress Mayim Bialik was filming in Bergen County (and gave a shout out to The Kosher Nosh deli in Glen Rock while she was here). But there’s more where that came from this week, as now we’re celebrating two standout residents who call Bergen County home—and whose recent accomplishments made national news!
Hellah “Good” Returns Home
First up is Hellah Sidibe, a Mali-born and Rochelle Park-raised soccer player who returned to New York City on May 24 after running 3,200 miles across the U.S. from California. Known as “HellaGood” on social media, Hellah, who has run every day since 2017, completed this feat within his goal of 100 days. “The feeling is unbelievable, fulfilling and I just feel joy to have been able to accomplish the toughest task of my life yet within my goal,” he tells BERGEN. “I gave myself 100 days or less and I completed it in 84. It makes me feel like I can do anything.”
He also raised money along the way for Souls4Soles, which donates shoes to people in need. It’s a cause near and dear to his heart having grown up in West Africa, where they’d often wear the same pair of shoes for years.
But before crossing the finish line in Manhattan, Hellah made a stop in his hometown of Rochelle Park, where he was welcomed home with TV crews, the mayor, the fire department, police escorts and proud fans and friends like Mike Cooper, coach and owner of Triple 10 Boxing in Westwood, cheering him on.
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“Rochelle Park is proud of him; people who never even met him showed up to support, and this was really awesome for our town,” Mike tells BERGEN. “Not only was this such a huge deal from the fitness standpoint, but he is extremely proud to be one of the first if not the first African American man to complete this cross-country trek.”
Hella agrees with his pal Mike’s sentiment, telling us, “Having that many people show up to show their support was just overwhelming in the best possible way. Seeing the American flag held up by the fire department and then turning the corner to see my community there to cheer me on was a feeling like no other.”
So, what’s up next for this all-star athlete? He’s going to take some time to regroup of course, but he certainly isn’t done with running. “I definitely want to get into ultra running after this, but for now I’m focusing all of my energy on recovery while keeping my daily mileage low,” he concludes. “I still need to keep my run streak alive! Four years and counting!” Oh, and on a personal note, he just might be planning a wedding too—Hellah proposed to his girlfriend at the finish line!
Rama Ginde Debuts on Chopped
Our second Bergen County headline-maker of the week is Rama Ginde of Hillsdale, a chef, mom and owner of WannaBee Chef, who conducts virtual cooking classes for both kids and adults. She made her big debut on Food Network’s Chopped on the Tuesday, May 25 episode, where she placed third and was chopped after the entrée round—but she still made Bergen County proud!
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“It was so much fun, such a great time, I met some amazing chefs and new talent and I was so grateful for the experience,” the chef tells BERGEN. “I feel like you don’t win or lose in these experiences, you just win, you know what I mean? The exposure that you get is so priceless.”
Ginde, who filmed the episode back in November, spent premiere night at a viewing party with family and friends. “My kids were freaking out and were so proud of me, and my cooking class kids and clients were so impressed,” she says. “I feel grateful to have such a supportive community.”
Her cooking MO is about plant-powered foods—which she says means “crowding your diet with fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and good fats”—and she incorporated both this and her Indian culture and background into her dishes by using bold flavors and lots of spices.
Did you miss chef Rama’s big TV moment? Watch the episode at foodnetwork.com or stream it on Discovery+ (login required).
And be sure to follow us on Instagram @bergenmagnj for more Bergen County news and happenings!