This has been a tough couple of weeks for our country.
Two major hurricanes made landfall in the U.S., causing massive devastation along our country’s southern coastlines. We observed the 16th anniversary of 9/11 when many souls were lost to terrorism, an act that forever changed how we define and implement security.
Then, there is the political stuff. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, there is one thing most Americans can agree upon – we are a nation divided along many lines of social and political issues, a chasm that is magnified by argumentative public diatribes and hateful social media rants. Given these recent circumstances, it is easy to feel heartbroken and hopeless about the fate of America’s spirit.
And then you turn on the TV.
In the wake of the storms, story after story has come out about acts of bravery where one victim saves the life of another, of families being rescued from rising waters by neighbors and their creative watercraft, or the many good Samaritans who have opened up their food cabinets, their homes and their hearts to help strangers in need. And, of course, the heroic efforts of first responders cannot be overlooked, as it is they who risk their lives every time they report for work, even under normal circumstances. Yet from the ruin of these water-logged streets, broken communities and shattered dreams rises an inspirational shroud of evidence that humanity is alive and well.
Up here in the (relative) north we may not be able to provide hands-on relief assistance to our friends in the south, but there are many other ways we can get involved remotely, such as organizing food drives, donating items to the American Red Cross or just giving financially to organizations that are assisting victims of Harvey and Irma.
Perhaps you are moved by these stories of benevolence and wish to get involved in local charitable efforts. If so, you’re in luck – the season for giving back is upon us. Over the course of the next two months, several local organizations are gearing up for events designed to bring people together and raise funds and awareness for their special causes.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Autumn on the southern Jersey coast brings crisp, cool weather that is perfect for walking, running or riding a bike – not just for your own health but to benefit others who have struggled or are struggling with a loss, a diagnosis or a lifestyle that impacts their well-being.
In other words, it’s a good time to get moving – for good.
Here is a list of worthy causes and events where you can get outside, get some awesome exercise and support a local charity in the process.
ALS / “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”
September 16, 2017 Walk to Defeat ALS® Ocean City
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It results from a lack of muscle nourishment that causes the muscles to atrophy, degenerate and eventually scar (“sclerosis”) which negatively impacts the motor neurons that send signals from the brain to initiate and control muscle movement. People with ALS may ultimately lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. ALS usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and it is estimated there are more than 20,000 Americans who have the disease at any given time. For unknown reasons, military veterans are approximately twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as the general public. Notable individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS include baseball great Lou Gehrig and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.
“A Walk to Defeat ALS” is a two mile walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk that will raise funds to support vital patient services that help improve the quality of life of those battling ALS including patient care management, assistive technology, a medical equipment loan program, respite care, support groups, and multidisciplinary ALS clinics. Funds will also support cutting-edge research by the ALS Association and help raise awareness of the disease. Additionally, funds will be used to advocate/enact policies that will advance research, expand access to care and improve the lives of people with ALS and their families nationwide.
Details: Walk begins at the 6th Street Athletic Complex, Ocean City. Registration begins at 9:00 am and the walk starts 10:00 am. The distance of the walk is 2 miles on the boardwalk. For more information about the event or how you can get involved, please visit the ALS Association website .
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
September 23 – 24, 2017 MS City to Shore Ride
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. MS can cause many symptoms affecting vision, speech, balance and coordination and cause tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and more. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time. The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it, with at least 2-3 times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
The MS City to Shore Ride is a 2-day event that begins in Cherry Hill, traverses the flat back roads of south Jersey and ends in Ocean City to the cheers of a supportive crowd. There are multiple ride routes will varying lengths for all cycling abilities ranging from 20 – 180 miles. The ride is fully supported with watered rest stops, bike support and transportation.
Details: Please visit the MS City to Shore Ride website for specific details about how to register as well as starting location, times, routes and other information.
October 15, 2017 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Statistics show that about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. As of this spring, there were more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S., which includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks are noncompetitive 3 – 5 mile walks that bring people together to make a difference for those whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer. The events raise money to fund innovative research, provide free information and support, help people reduce their breast cancer risk or assist with early identification when the disease is most treatable. The event, which begins with an opening ceremony and ends with post-walk entertainment, is a celebration of survivors and a way to honor loved ones who have lost their battle to breast cancer.
Details: The walk will begin at 9th and the Boardwalk. Registration is at 8:30 am and the walk will begin at 10:00 am. For more information about this event, please visit the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer website.
October 21, 2017 Back the Blue 5k
The Back the Blue 5K race/walk is being held to raise money for the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association Survivor & Welfare Fund, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing support and survivor benefits to the families of PBA members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Details: Race/walk will begin at the Cape May County Park and Zoo, 707 Route 9 North in Cape May Court House from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. For more information, please visit the Back the Blue 5K website .
DUI Awareness/Designated Driver Campaign
October 29, 2017 8th Annual Hero Walk and Inaugural 5k Run
On July 22, 2000, Ensign John R. Elliot was killed in a head-on collision as he was heading home one morning to celebrate his mother’s birthday. His death was caused by a drunken driver who had been arrested earlier in the night, released to a friend and drove drunk again. His loving family created the John R. Elliot Hero Campaign for Designated Drivers®, named so to honor the fact that he had served as a Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) at the Naval Academy from which he had recently graduated. The organization works closely with high schools and colleges to promote Designated Driver pledges, raise awareness and provide advertising such as billboards, TV ads and printed materials. The organization also works with bars and taverns to provide free soft drinks to those who are pledged Designated Drivers – all so that another family does not have to lose a child or loved one at the hands of a drunk driver. The Hero Walk and 5k Run is in its 8th year.
Details: Registration starts at 8:30 am at the Civic Center at 6th Street and the Boardwalk. Benefits Run starts at 9:30 am and the walk starts at 11:00 am. For more information about the run/walk, or to learn more about how you or your business can take a pledge, donate or become involved with the Campaign, please visit the Hero Campaign website .
November 23, 2017 13th Annual 5K Turkey Trot to benefit the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund
Brendan Borek was a young man who loved to surf. At the age of 16 he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma (cancer of the bone) and, after a 2-year courageous battle, lost his life to the disease. The Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund, Inc. (Brendan’s Fund) is a non-profit organization created by Brendan’s family in 1992 to provide compassionate assistance to Cape May and Atlantic County’s pediatric cancer patients and help families deal with the crisis of their child’s illness. In 2015 the organization created the Brendan Borek Endowed Fund at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to provide Child Life Specialist Team services to Atlantic and Cape May County pediatric cancer patients and their families. Funds also assist families with expenses for food, travel and hotel stays in order for them to be close to their child while they are receiving treatment at CHOP. This endowed fund guarantees access to care to present and future generations of CHOP patients. The Annual 5K Turkey Trot raises funds for the organization’s efforts and is in its 13th year.
Details: The Turkey Trot begins at the Cape May Fitness Center, 600 Parl Boulevard, West Cape May. Registration/Check-in is at 8:00 am and the 5K Starts at 9:00 am. For more information, or to learn more about other events and/or how you can become involved with or donate to the organization, please visit the Brendan Borek Fund website .
Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children
November 24, 2017 6th Annual Turkey Trot and 1-mile Family Walk
For over 45 years the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children has been providing an all-expense paid vacation to visually impaired children, many of whom are from financially challenged backgrounds. For eight weeks each summer, between mid-June and mid-August, the Home operates a camp that offers many of the campers their first experience of living by the sea. Campers, who range in age from 7-15 years old, experience a trip to Morey’s Piers on the Wildwood Boardwalk, visit the Cape May County Zoo and Park, go on boat rides, dine at local restaurants and ice cream parlors, attend cultural events at Veterans Plaza and the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, among other activities. The camp costs approximately $1,500 per week per child. The Home, which is located on 26th Street two blocks from the beach, can accommodate twenty campers each week. Support of the Home and the children’s camp experience is provided by volunteers, foundation grants, general donations and community organizations and the Turkey Trot, now in its 6th year, assists with fund raising.
Details: Begins at the Avalon Community Hall (3001 Avalon Avenue) at 10:00 am. Please check out the Helen L. Diller Home for Blind Children website for more information about the Turkey Trot and how you may become involved as a volunteer or donator.
Please continue to pay forward the spirt of goodwill emanating from the south and help a friend in need this fall by getting involved in one of these important events. If you are aware of any other charitable events that we should include on this list, please contact us.