What is more plentiful than the grains of sand on the Jersey coast? Mightier than the crashing waves of the vast Atlantic Ocean? Hope and determination – shared by many NJ families committed to finding a CURE for FA. New Jersey Seaside Stride is an annual fundraiser for FARA, each May, in Seaside Park, NJ. Families from all over the northeast gather for breakfast snacks, a stroll along the shore on the famous boardwalk, a delicious lunch hosted by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, a basket auction and games of chance.
The first Seaside Stride was the inspiration of Karen O’Brien, whose sons Dylan and Keith have FA. Karen is a bundle of energy – a centrifuge of commitment - and that first year was an oyster shell that opened to reveal the pearls of camaraderie, unity, consolation, encouragement and determination among several ladies. Karen Ryan, saw the chance to get involved. The Ryan’s son, John, a handsome, strapping guy, lends his broad smile every year. FA can’t affect his good nature. In recent years the mantel of leadership transferred to Karen R.
Another mom, Maureen Sweeney, has affectionately, and admiringly, become known as ‘The Basket Lady’. With 3 sons of her own, you might think that’s how she got the nickname. But it isn’t Connor’s behavior (her 13 y.o. son whose athletic nature defies FA on every court) who’s earned her that moniker – it’s the outstanding job she does providing BASKETS for the raffle – we mean B-A-S-K-E-T-S! Over 70 baskets this year! Maureen turns every meeting into an opportunity to share awareness about FA. These encounters often turn into a donation or a basket.
Melodies fill the day, courtesy of Mr Billy Mann – who graciously provides quintessential songs of summer at the beach. His good nature and jokes turn the basket raffle awards into a stand-up show. His wife, Joanne Staderman, has been a key organizer helping with raffle ticket sales and the annual 50/50. Their daughter, who lives with FA, and in NJ, was a key reason they joined in to help.
Linda and Jack Cantatore, and family keep things fun. The laughs follow wherever they go, and it looks like that is how they stay positive in the face of life’s challenges. Linda’s been involved since the beginning and her family of 5 roll up their sleeves to help. Linda utilizes the connections and relationships she has to heighten awareness and draw support for FARA.
Collectively, Seaside Stride has raised over $200,000. We know there are more NJ families out there, who haven’t made the trip to the shore. They will be so happy they joined. We are grateful to Carrabba’s, our sponsors, and St. Catharine of Sienna Parish. The friendships are irreplaceable, the encouragement, indispensable. Above all, we know that the cure is inevitable. Not hopeful. Not promising. Inevitable. Like the tide returning to the sands. Through the love and devotion of parents, friends and families, This Cure is for – wait for it – ‘Shore’.