Egg Harbor Township could serve as a model across the state for the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, said founder and township resident Bill Elliott.

More than 500 students, faculty and alumni turned out for this month’s annual Nerf Ball Tournament at Egg Harbor Township High School, sponsored by the Future Business Leaders of America as a HERO Campaign fundraiser.

“It was an amazing night, both for us and for the HERO Campaign,” FBLA adviser Christine Ryan said in a statement.

The support from the high school is all the more meaningful for Elliott, whose son, John, was class president at the school in 1996. In July 2000, two months after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Navy Ensign John Elliott was killed by a drunken driver.

“It was a great tournament, and we really appreciate the energy and the dedication of the students,” Bill Elliott said Thursday. “We think it can be a model for what we can do throughout the state.”

The HERO Campaign is now in seven states, he said, “but funds raised locally tend to be spent locally — on billboards, school and college programs, working with bars and taverns up and down the coast in the summer to provide free soft drinks to designated drivers.”

More than 100,000 drivers signed up to be designated drivers last year, he said.

Carissa Hensyl, an Egg Harbor student and member of the One Hit Wonders Nerf Ball team, said in a statement that the events “are a great way to get the HERO Campaign’s message out to students. The events are informative and fun, so they engage the people that need to hear that the cure for drunken driving is a designated driver.”

The Nerf Ball event raised about $4,000, Ryan said, though Elliott said that number could end up being close to $5,000. Combining last year’s event and the October HERO Walk, Egg Harbor Township’s two HERO events brought in about $18,000 in 2013 — and this year, Elliott said, that number should reach $20,000.

“We appreciate whatever (the amount) is,” he said. The township “has really taken the lead in providing innovative events and meaningful support for the HERO Campaign so it can keep going on with its lifesaving work. It’s all part of the overall commitment by Egg Harbor Township.”

For information about the HERO Campaign, see herocampaign.org.

Contact Steven Lemongello:

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