The 1,600 or more participants in the 66-mile Roar to Restore the Shore motorcycle run yesterday were greeted with smiling faces, waving hands, and even some checks for their cause along the route.
“You heard Sandy roar this past October, now hear us roar to reclaim our shore,” was the catch phrase that area residents Jack Sharkey and Mark Pearson used to urge their fellow riders to action.
Sharkey and Pearson - both originally from the Brick area - had family and friends lose homes during Superstorm Sandy, and decided, in Sharkey's words, "over a few beers in a bar" to ride to raise funds for Sandy relief. The organizers decided to donate any money raised to the Mary Pat Christie’s Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the American Legion post in Keyport, and the Brick Hurricane Sandy Relief fund, which provided the starting and ending points of the ride, respectively.
The ride wound from Keyport, along the Bayshore into Point Pleasant to Seaside before turning north, crossing the Mantoloking Road Bridge before ending in Brick.
Sharkey said he and the other organizers were "overwhelmed" by the response, and that they collected $26,795 in participation fees alone, and that they expected that total to go up once they factored in vendor and other monies collected - including people who Sharkey said just "walked up and handed me checks while we were riding."
He said that the vast majority - "about 98%" - of the funds will go to Sandy relief efforts, once they deduct the costs of the commemorative badges given to participants and other incidental costs - such as copying fees for entry forms - related to the ride.
"The ride was something to be a part of. As we road along the route, people were out on the road waving and clapping and throwing peace signs and thumbs up," said ride participant Coleen Itri, a Toms River resident. "I think it meant a lot to the areas we rode through, and touched a lot of hearts, including mine. It brought tears to my eyes. I was honored to be a part of it and ride with my brother-in-law's club, Leathernecks MC."
While Sharkey told a Patch reporter Sunday that he is taking a "rest" today after months of planning yesterday's event, he said that he has not ruled out the possiblity of doing another ride for Sandy relief in the future - as long as there "is a need."