MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Garden State Fondo, formerly known as Gran Fondo NJ, kicked off at the Morristown Green on Sunday, September 8 th at 7 AM. Held annually, cyclists of all ages and skill levels participate in building a vibrant community and raisising money for numerous charities. This year was the first time the event was held without its founder Marty Epstein, who passed away in May.
Several local officials participated in the Grand Opening Ceremony addressing the crowd before the race began. Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Mikie Sherrill, Representative for New Jersey’s 11 th Congressional District, gave tribute to Marty. Mayor Dougherty encouraged all of the riders to put up a fist and shout “Marty” and Mikie expressed how proud Marty would have been of this year’s event “he was somebody that cared so much about the community.”
Dr. Andrew, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics of Memorial Sloan Kettering, spoke on behalf of the organization. Andrew, along with numerous other members of Memorial Sloan Kettering, a sponsor of the Garden State Fondo, were riding in tribute to the event as well as in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Grand Marshall Tara Parson was honored to be present as her passion is getting people to bike. She encouraged all those participating to enjoy the ride “feel the freedom that riding bikes gives you.”
Jesse Epstein, Marty’s son and the owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, said that this was a bittersweet year for him as Marty’s death inspired Jesse to resume riding.
Lastly, the executive director of the Garden State Fondo Bill Rudick expressed his gratitude to all the participants. Rudick said that the hard work of the volunteers, cyclists, and beneficiaries help fulfill the Garden State Fondo’s vision.
Afterwards, Morristown High School student Danielle Beck sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Participants could choose from six different routes that ranged from 18 miles to 125 miles. Along the way, there were multiple rest stops with refreshments. The ride concluded with A BBQ as well as an Awards Ceremony. Charities supported by the event included New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition, Nica – New Jersey Interscholastic Cycling League, Homeless Solutions, Raritan Headwaters, and The Seeing Eye.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Garden State Fondo, you can go to their website https://www.granfondonj.com/.