BAYONNE, NJ - Ken Healy will always remember Karen Minutella, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2015 at the age of 47. Ken, who was left disabled in the accident, and Karen were high school sweethearts. “She’s always with me,” he said recently, pulling out a cross that hangs around her neck containing some of her ashes.

But Healy and other members of Bayonne Elks Lodge 434, where she was a member, wanted to do something more to keep her memory alive in the public. Speaking TAPinto Bayonne, Ken said that one the last things Karen did before losing her life soon after moving from Bayonne to Bristol, Connecticut, was to read for some kids.

“She went to one of the schools on May 15 to read to kids,” Ken said. “Two days later the accident happened.  So, we thought we would do this in her memory.”

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So, for the third year, members of the Lodge spread out through Bayonne elementary schools as part of the National Read Across America Day. Lodges in Brick Township, Hoboken, and others as far away as Tennessee took part in tribute this year by reading to kids.

Instead of reading from Dr. Seuss books, like what happens in many schools all across the country, the Elks chose “Freckle Juice” by Judy Bloom as their selection. With the approval of Nancy Ruane, the director of the Bayonne Board of Education’s English program they bought and donated 850 copies of the book to students in 31 classes.

“This helps instill literature into our children’s learning,” Ruane said. “I thank the Elks for helping with our reading program.”

Ken said the Elks raised the money to buy the books, one of a number of community outreach programs the group is involved in.

Liza DiLorenzo, who was one of the Elks who read to the students at Horace Mann School, said the Motorcycle Committee is also  hosting its Annual Karen Minutella Run-BBQ and Blessings of the Bikes on April 18. That event will be held at 364 Broadway and begin at noon.

“This is how we earn the funding to buy next year’s books,” DiLorenzo said. “We also invite the teachers to come and attend as our guests.”

The committee is asking for a $20 donation from other members of the public. Funds will also go to the Elks other charities such as for special needs children, veterans, homeless veterans, youth activities and drug awareness programs.

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