Antonio Cruz and the Gentlemen of the Shore ride for a cause, but there was a time when it was unclear whether and when Cruz would ever ride again.
Cruz, of Pleasantville, was riding his motorcycle in an autism charity event, he said, when he was cut off by a car that then slammed on its brakes. Cruz’s bike crashed into the car, leaving him with two broken ankles and a crushed pelvis.
“I’m doing better, but I was out for six months,” Cruz said.
The injuries affected his work as a martial arts teacher as well. “I’m a third-degree black belt, but my ankles are still tender,” he said.
But now, “I’ve actually started riding again. I’m back on the bike.”
The Gentlemen of the Shore Motorcycle Club was founded in 2004 by seven members, four of whom are still members, club President Tony Sample said.
“Basically,” said Sample, of Atlantic City, known as “Fresh” in the motorcycle club community, “the club formed together around one group of guys. And with small numbers to begin with, we started riding together.
Now, he said, the group has grown to 30 members.
“The goal of the club is to reach out to the community,” Sample said. The name reflects “what we stand by and how we carry ourselves within the community. How we conduct ourselves is very important.”
Their three-piece patch is also symbolic, he said. Among the images are a seagull and the Absecon Lighthouse, “because we represent Atlantic City and the shore.”
The group participates in charity rides such as the Ride for Autism Speaks — where Cruz was injured last year — and organizes its own events, such as community barbecues in Atlantic City and its annual Autism Fun Day.
“We started Autism Fun Day working with the Atlantic City schools, but we’ve started to reach out to other schools,” Sample said.
The next Fun Day is April 25, “our third year on that,” Sample said. “It’s doing very well. Last year, we had Atlantic City Police K-9s, the Fire Department and different activities for kids the entire day.”
For Cruz, riding is all about the calm.
“I think it’s relaxing,” Cruz said. “It’s very relaxing. I take long rides up to Lake George (N.Y.). It’s nice up there.”
For information on the upcoming Autism Fun Day and the Gentlemen of the Shore Motorcycle Club, call Sample at 609-402-2216.
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