WEEHAWKEN AND BEYOND -- Thousands of people swarmed the parking lot across from the Weehawken Lincoln Tunnel entrance Sunday morning in preparation for their walks and runs through the eastbound tube to benefit the Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ). The day marked the 26th annual Lincoln Tunnel Challenge and the highest registration numbers on record, according to SONJ Event Manager Beth Conover.
Last year the event raised $212,000 for the organization, and this year, with 3,490 registered participants, they expect to raise around $220,000 Conover said.
"I live for sports, and my brother has an intellectual disability, so both are in my blood," she explained. "Working the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge allows me to bring the best of both worlds together."
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner joined the 28 members of Team Weehawken for the 3.1 mile walk across and back through the tunnel. Nearly all of them opted to walk it, but the Kennedy father-daughter team, consisting of 14-year-old Peyton and marathon-running father Bart were there to run for the cause.
"We live so close, and it's for a really good cause," Peyton said. "Then I can say I ran through the Lincoln Tunnel!"
Members of the Weehawken Peer Leadership team arrived at the event at 5:30 a.m. to help register participants and get things running smoothly, and were overseen by Peer Leader teacher Laura Sciortino. They buzzed busily behind the registration desk handing out t-shirts and number badges.
Team Weehawken second year veteran Vicky Minervini loves to walk, and her participation in the event allows her to do what she loves for a good cause, she said. "What surprised me the most the first time is how nice and clean the tunnel was," she said.
For more on the event, pick up next weekend's edition of the Weehawken Reporter. -- Gennarose Pope