Registration started at 8:30 a.m. and it takes approximately 2 hours to reach LBI from my house. Up and out the door by 6 a.m.with the sunrise, traveling across the Commodore Barry Bridge was stunning, sorry no pictures, I was driving. I can't even tell you if traffic was heavy. The caffeine had not kicked in yet.
We arrived at the starting point, The Old Causeway Restaurant on Bay Avenue, in plenty of time about 8:20 a.m. and registration was all set up. There were about 30 kids. mostly high school age just milling about. We signed up and paid our $5 registration to walk the walk and received a yellow wrist band, an additional $10 for a brown Walk the Old Causeway T-shirt. Yes, I had to have one. It was for a good cause. I guess it will be us and these milling about kids on the bridge. Those numbers changed dramatically over the next hour and a half, as we waited for the start.
Most participants were dressed appropriately with sneakers, a few had sandals. There was still a morning chill in the air. so a few sweatshirts bobbed in the crowd but mostly all brown t-shirts and shorts, these were hearty beach people. The brown blended nicely with their tans. Sashaying through the crowd were these two young ladies in fancy prom dresses. I wondered, were they overdressed or I under dressed? After all, this is the beach and anything goes. It turns out the two Party Princesses had another assignment that day. They were an intended meet and greet but also served as ambassadors to warm up the crowd and set the mood. They were paid performers, unless of course they donated their time but someone totally stole the show from them.
Hadley Magaziner sang the National Anthem with such strong and powerful force she could rival anyone on "The Voice". This young lady will only get better. The R.O.T.C. from Southern Regional color guard presented the flag.
Harper Peliah Tretola (BW Hero 2014) and her family lead the walk. Harper's dad, a Shipbottom police officer, read a heart rending description of their families challenge throughout the past year as her mother, Rachel proudly held on to her. Harper has a very rare disease and spent the first 9 months of her 11 months of age at CHOP. She has been home in Brant Beach for the past two months in part to the wonderful work of the doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia but also in a large part to a life changing trust in God to see them through. She is a living miracle. She is also an adorable little girl who is quite the fashion statement. Who wouldn't want to follow her over the bridge? Her story, although heartbreaking at times was very uplifting. These are the things in life to celebrate and recognize as great events.
Another story of the day, a local family and supporters of bridge walk lost their newborn daughter/granddaughter this past week. Organizers asked to participate in Baby Charlotte's remembrance. One of the walkers (this young lady on the stage) will be carrying a solitary pink balloon in her memory. When you see the balloon we ask that you show the family support during this difficult time and post pictures of the balloon on social media using #rememberingcharlotte.
The Walk began at the Old Causeway Inn Restaurant in Manahawkin and ended at the Waterfront Park in Ship Bottom..... and we were off. The total mileage was 3.1 miles that is comparable to a 5K. The bridge distance was 2.1 miles. Most walkers finish the walk in 50 minutes, I was among the average. At times, I noticed a bit of a gap between where I was and the walkers ahead but I'm thinking the pacers behind me (and there were quite a few) were grateful for that. At the front of the line, you can see our fearless leader, Harper in her stroller with her mom and dad.
I always travel with a bottle of water but we were promised water along the way. Typestries Sign and Digital sponsored a water stop midpoint-across from Causeway Boat Marina. I was thinking at one point "somebody" doesn't know what mid-point means. I was later to find out the somebody was "me". Then I saw a sign "Water Station Ahead", strategically placed no doubt. Is that another hill? Then the name calling started, "water whiner". I wasn't panting that much BUT I think I was starting to see a mirage in front of me. Is that water up there, over the horizon? I'm getting closer. It was, rows of small Dixie cups lined the table, sorry no pictures it was a grab and go! Best water I ever had in my lifetime. I drank it slow, I wanted to pace myself, this was mid-point. It was just the boost I needed.
Of course there was entertainment along the way, my one desire was to see some of the fancy places I pass each year, as I drive into the island and back home again. So the entertainment was both visual and audio. We were fortunate to have chosen a space in line with a group I called the beepers. They were youngins and I am proud to say for the most part I could pace them. They were fun to be around. They tried tirelessly to get cars and especially trucks to beep their horns as they passed our group going in the opposite direction. Once in a while, a driver would comply, when this happened they would squeal with laughter and applaud the effort.
Since I have never really been part of a fundraiser walk before I had no idea what the finish would be like. There was a bagpiper playing as we entered Ship Bottom Waterfront Park on 9th St. I don't recall the song he was playing but to me it felt like the Rocky theme. What fun it was to be part of this event. Several refreshments tents were set up with giveaways to all those sporting a yellow band. The apples and bananas looked good as well as the cereal bars but my favorite lady at the end of the race was handing out water. It seemed as if she was waiting there just for me. It was a great community event to attend. As a bonus, there was a car show going on at the end of the race. I hope to share some pictures of those in a future blog.
What is it like to participate in a walk? It is fantastic fun, but don't take my word for it look at all the smiles and legwork that goes into it in the slideshow.
According to a question on the Walking the Causeway Facebook page, last year 10K was raised and will be split between the Stafford, SRHS and LBI schools. It also says, we've been told to charge more..to make more-but it is a community/family first, fundraiser second event. It was a privilege for me to participate.