HERO Walk Expected to Draw Thousands on Oct. 14
The public is invited to participate in a 5K walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk to raise money to promote designated driving.
Thousands of walkers are expected to descend upon the Ocean City Boardwalk next Sunday (Oct. 14) for the second annual HERO Walk promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers.
The Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township school districts alone hope to field 1,000 walkers apiece. The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey is also recruiting a big field of participants for the event.
The HERO Walk benefits the HERO Campaign, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing drunk driving tragedies by promoting the use of designated drivers.
Walkers must pre-register by 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at herocampaign.org
Registration fee (includes T-shirt) is $20 for adults, $10 for high school and college students and $5 for children 14 and under. But participants are also encouraged to form teams and set fundraising goals.
Walkers may sign in on the day of the race between 9 and 11 a.m. and walk the 5-kilometer course between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The event is a non-competitive walk that starts on the Boardwalk at Sixth Street and includes a turnaround point at 20th Street. Race-day registration starts at 8 a.m.
The event includes food, entertainment, trophies and prizes for top fundraising teams and individuals.
The HERO Campaign was established in memory of Navy Ensign John Elliott, who lost his life to a drunken driver in July, 2000. Elliott had graduated two months earlier from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, where he was named the outstanding HERO (Human Education Resource Officer) of his class.
The HERO Campaign is active in five states, including New Jersey, where Elliott lived and was president of his graduating class at Egg Harbor Township High School.
Major League Baseball and NFL teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Giants and Jets, and the New England Patriots promote the HERO Campaign at designated driver booths in their stadiums. Pictures of outstanding student designated drivers from area colleges are also displayed on highway billboards as part of the campaign's promotional activities.
The walkers on Oct. 14 will represent businesses, government agencies, law enforcement, bars and taverns and the licensed beverage industry, according to organizers. But students will perhaps make up the biggest contingent.
“The theme for our students at school this year is, ‘Proud to be an EHT Hero,’ ” said Scott McCartney, superintendent of Egg Harbor Township School District. “We partnered with the HERO Campaign, because we believe in their message for our students.”
Joining the spirit of cooperation, Kathleen Taylor, superintendent of the Ocean City School District, also hopes to put the feet of more than 1,000 people on the Boardwalk for the Walk, because the message of the HERO Campaign is important to everyone throughout the region.
“The HERO Campaign is about safety, responsibility and making good decisions," Taylor said. "That’s what we do in education. By supporting the HERO Walk, we support the campaign message."
William Elliott, chairman of the HERO Campaign, said the support of students is important to the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.
“We would like to thank the area students, teachers and supporters of all ages who will be participating in our annual HERO Walk and helping the HERO Campaign save lives in memory of our son and all the victims of drunken driving,” he said. “Our goal is to prevent future drunk driving tragedies by making the use of safe and sober designated drivers be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt.”
The inaugural event in 2011 included 800 walkers and raised a reported $100,000.