LINWOOD — At the HEROtini Happening gala, held Aug. 29 at Linwood Country Club, the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign crowned the winners of its summerlong HEROtini Mocktail Challenge and raised more than $41,000 for its new Safe Ride Program.

Tomatoes, of Margate, and its sponsor CRA Financial raised more than $13,000 and took home the top prize among 31 bars, taverns, restaurants and casinos competing for the 2019 HEROtini Cup. Steve and Cookie’s restaurant and its sponsor Rothman Orthopaedic Institute came in second, followed by Harbor Pines Golf Club and the Coastal Group of Morgan Stanley, in third place.

Other winners of the night:

• Best Tasting HEROtini — Harry’s Oyster Bar & Seafood, “Don't Shuck-N-Drive,” sponsored by Wells Fargo Financial Advisors

• Best HEROtini Name — Sofia Margate, “Get Your Ass Home Safe,” sponsored by D'Amato Law Firm

• People’s Choice Award — Linwood Country Club, “The Designated Driver,” sponsored by Glenn Insurance

Starting Memorial Day weekend, voters donated online for their favorite mocktails and establishments at the HERO Campaign website. The fundraising competition benefited the campaign’s Holiday HEROES Safe Ride Program, which will provide free and discounted rides home for patrons of the participating HEROtini establishments — up to $20 per ride — over the Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve holiday season.

Muriel Elliott, John Elliott’s mother, conceived of the HEROtini competition to honor the memory of her son, who was killed by a drunken driver in July 2000, two months after graduating from the United States Naval Academy.

“We want our community to be free from drunk driving so no family has to experience the loss of a loved one,” Muriel said.

At Thursday’s event, celebrity judges including nutritionist Nancy Adler, Taste magazine editor Pamela Dollak, Alcohol responsibility specialist Leah Kelly of Brown-Forman, Food Network chef Nicole Gaffney and Passion Vines owner Michael Bray helped select the best-tasting HEROtini and best HEROtini name from entries throughout Atlantic County. Event emcees Zach Eberson, Whitney Ullman and comedian Michelle Tomko showed segments from their popular video interviews with the contestants and their sponsors, shown on social media throughout the summer.

For more information about the HERO Campaign, see HeroCampaign.org.

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