By Jerry Del Priore
Leading up to the Spirit of Life Walk 16th annual Walkathon event on Saturday at Joseph T. McGuire Park in Bergen Beach, the steady rain looked as if it would put a damper on the “spirits” of all in attendance.
But the organizers of the occasion were able to move some of the festivities indoors to the John Malone Community Center and continue without a hitch.
The Walkathon is held each year to honor the memory of Tommy Meo Jr.—a 12-year-old affable boy from the Bergen Beach, Brooklyn area who was tragically killed in an accident on September 22, 2000.
“Despite the rain, the Spirit of Life Organization successfully hosted the 16th annual Spirit of Life Walkathon in honor of Tommy Meo Jr,” said Gina Gampero, one of Tommy’s three sisters. “The turnout in the unpredictable weather was truly heart-warming and exemplified what it means to be surrounded by great family and friends, a supportive community and the most incredible volunteers and participants.”
Spirit of Life is a non-profit association started by the Meo family shortly after Tommy’s passing, in which it dedicates a relentless effect to assist the less fortunate. Through the walkathon’s fundraising efforts, the organization has been able to use the monies it collects to directly help families and children in need.
Some of this year’s beneficiaries, according to Gampero, include a young boy named Bryan, who was afforded his life’s wish of visiting Orlando and swimming with the dolphins through the Dream Factory, a non-profit organization which grants dreams to critically and chronically ill children since 1980.
In addition, Gampero said SOF has sponsored a child who has been impacted by pediatric cancer, the chance to relish his childhood at Sunrise Day Camp this summer. Plus, it donated a Sunrise on Wheels project, which will provide a little bit of fun and joy to children awaiting treatment in pediatric oncology units of all participating hospitals.
It has also sponsored a dream room make over with Sunshine On A Ranney Day, for a nine-year-old boy by the name of Jacob, who will be receiving a beautiful therapy room.
The event also featured bounce houses, pony rides, face painting, a clown, a balloonist, a magician, delicious ices, cookie decorating, raffles and more for all the attendees.
For more information on Spirit of Life, follow it on Instagram @spiritoflife2.