Truck Run Hits Local Roads to Support Troops
Although attendance was down from last year’s inaugural event, participants in the Aug. 21 South Jersey Truck Run raised more than $500 for an organization helping military personnel and their families.
Late in the morning, some 75 pickup trucks left from the Doc Cramer Recreation Complex in Manahawkin, where they took Oak Avenue east to Route 9. From there, they rolled down Route 9 South, turning at Stage Road in Tuckerton and heading west before ending up at the Pic-A-Lilli Inn in Shamong Township.
“It was about a 45-minute ride on a really nice day in the scenic pines,” said Matthew Keple, event organizer.
Keple said he developed an idea for the truck run in July 2015, shortly after a gunman fatally shot four Marines before being shot to death himself at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. Keple also said he felt President Obama did not do enough to honor the slain servicemen.
“It took him two weeks to finally have the flags flown at half-staff,” said the 22-year-old Keple, who works for Russo Heating and Cooling in Manahawkin.
Noting that truck runs have been popular events in other parts of the country, Keple believed he could get support to hold one in Southern Ocean County. He reached out through social media, and also started a South Jersey Truck Run Facebook page.
“With all the controversy going on in America, I felt as if we should show our South Jersey pride for what the men and women have done for us over the years overseas,” Keple said.
In addition to American flags, Keple said some of this year’s participants flew special flags honoring slain police officers.
“It was a tribute to those officers killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and other parts of the country as well,” he said. “It has been a very tough summer for law enforcement.”
He said each participant was asked to donate $10.
“We also had raffles and entertainment,” said Keple.
He said the event’s designated charity is American Recreational Military Services. Founded in 2003, the organization provides support for troops and their families whether they are preparing to deploy, serving abroad or returning home.
“They have done a lot of good for our servicemen and women,” said Keple. “We know that people who serve really do need support.”
Keple said he is looking to hold another truck run next summer. He said people can log onto his South Jersey Truck Run Facebook page or call him at 609-481-8191 for additional updates.
— Eric Englund