(Hundreds of supporters join together for the 7th Annual John R. Elliott Hero Walk Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 at the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center.)
OCEAN CITY, N.J. – In a demonstration of their unyielding dedication to the cause of ending drunk driving, hundreds of rain soaked supporters turned out Sunday to take part in the 7th Annual John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.
The annual walk, which is dedicated to combating drunk driving by enlisting designated drivers, was held Sunday Oct. 29 at the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center and featured for the first time in its history a competitive 5K run.
While participants had the choice of either running or walking, all marched in memory of those lost to drunk driving tragedies.
“We are simply awe-struck at the commitment our supporters have shown year after year to the HERO Campaign and its mission of preventing drunk driving accidents,” co-chairman and CEO William Elliott said. “Only with the community’s continued support can we make the impact needed to end these senseless tragedies.”
Co-chairman Muriel Elliott was impressed with the support she saw on display at Sunday’s walk.
“They are an inspiration to our community,” Elliott said. “It is so rewarding to see the young and the old get involved and pledge to make the responsible choice to get home safely through the use of designated drivers.”
With a heavy rainstorm battering the region Sunday, the campaign still saw 500 of the pre-registered participants engaging in the drive.
“The rain may have had an effect on the turnout but it certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm people have for this campaign,” William Elliott said.
That was certainly true for Egg Harbor Township resident Bernadette Cottrell, whose 16-year-old daughter Kayla cheered on the cause with the rest of her Egg Harbor Township High School cheerleading squad.
“It’s so important for the community and it’s nice to see everyone coming together like one big family for such a significant cause,” said Cottrell, who added she planned to take part in the 100,000 HEROES Challenge by pledging to become a designated driver. “I never take a drink and drive — it’s so important to get others to take that oath.”
For 15-year-old Absegami High School student Moise Dembele, participating in the walk meant being part of a meaningful movement.
“It means a lot to me that I can go out and walk for a purpose,” Dembele said. “You’re walking for people who have died, and I think it’s great.”
Members of Ocean City Police Department’s PBA Local 61 were on hand to give a generous $1,000 donation to the campaign.
“We’re extremely appreciative,” Elliott said of the donation. “Law enforcement is a key partner in our commitment to ending drunk driving. I am always amazed at the overwhelming support of our community and am thankful to the Ocean City Police Department PBA Local 61 for this very generous donation.”
Elliott said the donation and other proceeds are used to support the HERO campaign by helping with the purchase of billboards, stickers and other supplies.
The HERO Campaign is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers to prevent drunk driving tragedies in memory of Navy Ensign John Elliott of Egg Harbor Township, who was killed in a collision with a drunk driver in July 2000.
Runners kicked things off at 9:30 a.m., followed with the walkers’ march at 11 a.m. Both took off from the Ocean City Sports and Civic Center, located at 6th Street and the Boardwalk.
Please visit HEROwalkrun.org for more information.
Some walked, some ran during Sunday’s 7th Annual Hero Campaign Walk Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017.
Members of Greate Bay’s Racquet and Fitness pose in front of the Hero banner Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017.