SEA BRIGHT: FUN RUN AIDS A HURTING TOWN

Runners charging through Sea Bright, above, and gathered for an postrace party, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Hurricane-ravaged Sea Bright got a breath of life Saturday morning, when the scarcely occupied downtown area played host to hundreds of runners and onlookers taking part in the Keith D. Mcheffey Memorial Fun Run.

Ocean Avenue served as the track, while Woody’s Ocean Grille sponsored an expansive food and beer tent to keep the celebration going long after even the slowest runner crossed the finish line.

It was all in an effort to pick up the pieces in the rebuilding town – and to celebrate one man’s cherished but tragically short life.

The Keith McHeffey Foundation, named after a young Rumson/Fair Haven man killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, was founded by McHeffey’s friends and family shortly after his death to honor local men and women who lost their lives that day. Through events like the fun run, the foundation is able to raise money in order to give back to the community in honor of their friend, according to KDM board member and close McHeffey friend Steve Kane.

“Keith was a really big athlete and outdoorsman,” Kane said. “So, it’s great to his legacy live on through events like this.”

Kane said that he, McHeffey, and other friends worked during the summer at Donovan’s Reef and shared a lot of memories in Sea Bright.

“In 2002, we took over Donovan’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Fun Run, and turned it into a tribute to Keith, and a way to raise funds for the KDM Foundation,” he said. “We’ve had great support, every year.”

In addition to the $2,500 scholarships the KDM awards to one local high school boy and girl each year, the foundation also funds sports and recreation endeavors all around the area – including a new scoreboard at Sickles’ School in Fair Haven and a complete overhaul of Piping Rock Park in Rumson. This year, the fund will be donating proceeds gained through over 500 pre-registrations to the Sea Bright Recreation Department and local Sea Bright charities like Sea Bright Rising, according to Kane.

Dylan Devesty, a Fair Haven native who had the distinction of crossing the finish line first  – clocking in with a time of 19 minutes, three seconds  – said the race offered runners an opportunity to help out.

“The race is really for a couple great causes, not just the KDM Foundation, but also for Sea Bright,” Devesty said. “It’s cool to get a chance to raise help money for Sea Bright, a town that really needs it.”

Kevin Cody and Mike Shields, two Rumson men who also ran, also had nothing but praise for the event.

“It gets better and bigger every year,” Cody said. “And Sea Bright needs it more than ever this year, especially,” Shields added.

When asked on what McHeffey would have said if he knew about the event and the KDM foundation, Kane gave an unexpected answer.

“He probably would have made fun of us,” he said with a laugh. “But in all seriousness, I know he would be all for it. It goes along with the kind of guy he was.”

“Keith wasn’t married and didn’t have children,” he added, “so we all just wanted to make he sure lived on, and that people would always remember his name.”