Jersey Shore:  — L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) kicked off the first-ever New Jersey Social Distance Walk this week on the Belmar boardwalk — a fundraising effort to help keep local drug prevention programs in communities and schools. You can organize one in your town too! 

Standing six feet apart from each other, representatives from Belmar and Lake Como gathered along the oceanfront for a photo to mark the kickoff, led by Nick DeMauro, executive director and CEO of the national drug and violence prevention program supported by police officers. 

“Despite the national coronavirus crisis, the war on drugs does not abate,” said DeMauro. “There has never been a more important time to raise awareness.  We are still losing 200 people per day due to opioid and drug abuse. No longer strangers, those we are losing are our family members, neighbors and friends.”

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The Allentown-based nonprofit organization trains law enforcement officers across the country to educate youths in their schools and community about the dangers of substance abuse and violence, as well as peer-to-peer cyberbullying. In Belmar, Patrolman Peter Speakman is the head L.E.A.D. officer, supported by fellow officers Erik Lieb and Corey Whitman.

Seventy-five percent of net proceeds of the walk will benefit local L.E.A.D. chapters, helping to ensure that school children in each community will continue to have access to effective evidence-based drug and violence prevention programs.

“We want to ensure our school children continue to have access to our programs,” added DeMauro, a Lake Como resident and borough council member who was joined Mayor Kevin Higgins for the kickoff.

“I am honored to walk and support a great cause serving the children in our school district,” Higgins said.  

Also in attendance were Belmar Police Chief Tina Scott, Spring Lake Police Chief Edward Kerr, members of the Belmar police force and several local residents (see photo above).

Here’s how to get involved in the 2020 Social Distance Walk:

  • Participate in the walk as an individual or create a virtual team with friends and family to work together toward your goal. Run or walk, indoors or outside.  Prizes include water bottles, T-shirts, polo shirts, jackets and windbreakers.
  • Click here and register online.
  • Text LEADWALK to 71777 and to be automatically linked to the registration pages.
  • Click here for sponsorship opportunities.
  • Call L.E.A.D. at 609-259-2500.