NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The second annual Bikers for Brooke Motorcycle Run and Family Fun Day took place Saturday to raise funds for The Brooke Healey Foundation, established to honor Brooke Healey of New Providence, who, in 2013, passed away at age 5 from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor.
Alissa Rust, who co-chaired the event with Sandy Castle, spoke to the foundation’s purpose: “We help families who have children with pediatric cancer. We give scholarships to New Providence and Madison high school students, and we give money to research for DIPG.”
More than 100 bikers gathered in the Our Lady of Peace Church lot for the motorcycle run. The New Providence Fire Department truck was present. Volunteers registered and enjoyed the coffee, sponsored by the New Providence A&P, New Providence P.B.A., and Natale’s Bakery in Summit.
Just before noon, Father Bill Mahon prayed for and blessed the riders, and the police issued the safety regulations for the run. Escorted by the police, bikers then rode out of the lot in a two-row fashion, cheered on by onlookers along the curb.
The 45-mile bike run spanned two hours and ended at Mt. Carmel in Berkeley Heights, the location of the Family Fun Day. Volunteers barbecued and conducted raffles. Attendees also enjoyed the beer garden. Entertainment for children included sand art and face painting booths, bounce houses, a Game Truck, and more. The music stage featured performances by Jeff Grob, Precious Bones, Dave Tucker, The Dirty, and Save the Whale.
Many merchants filled the church lot, including vendors of motorcycle gear, fashion jewelry, K&P Artisan Meats, Zita's Homemade Ice Cream, and more. The Kelsey Charity Run, Inc., sold tickets to their raffle for a 2014 Harley Davidson Street Glide and a Sony 55-inch LCD HDTV.
During an intermission in the music, co-chairs Sandy Castle and Alissa Rust took to the stage. Rust thanked the volunteers; honored Chatham Print & Design and Taylor Rental with plaques; and thanked the top sponsors, Elefante Music, Fill-A-Need Foundation, Straight Edge Striping, and Mount Carmel. Castle explained the purpose of the foundation and thanked everyone for attending.
“Brooke has touched all of us in one way or another. Brooke was a very special little girl. She was a fighter and very brave, with a fiery personality. We all miss Brooke, but we will make her proud of our efforts to help other children through The Brooke Healey Foundation,” said Castle.
Steve and Stefani Healey, Brooke's parents, addressed the gathering. Steve thanked the volunteers for their dedication to make the event possible, emphasizing his gratitude to Alissa Rust and Sandy Castle, and voiced his hopes for the event to continue and grow. Stefani spoke of the necessity for this fundraising and support to continue and thanked everyone for being a part of that ongoing mission.
Steve introduced Tara Laggini, a survivor of brain tumors. Laggini spoke about her experience and the support she has received. She presented a $500 check to the Foundation. Jim Cookingham of The Kelsey Charity Run, Inc. which is slated to take place next weekend, presented a $1000 donation to the Foundation. Lastly, Alex Giambra and Matthew Fogerty of American Legion Post 261 of Piscataway donated a combined $300 to the Foundation.
Those who would like to support the Foundation may send a check to The Brooke Healey Foundation, PO Box 981, New Providence, NJ 07974; or donate via PayPal on www.brookehealey.com.