BRICK – Everyday heroes were honored at the 6th Annual Brick Hero Awards program held at the Brick High School auditorium.
The event honors Brick residents and businesses that exhibit a remarkable effort to make the community a better place, awards acts of kindness, and puts those who actively do good deeds in the spotlight.
Over the years, the ceremony has taken on the feel of a variety show with performances from the high school choirs, theater groups, dance teams, and alumni, which were interspersed with Hero Awards that were given to 17 individuals this year.
This year’s honorees included teachers, custodians, a school bus driver, community workers, activists and others. Each hero was pinned with a green superhero cape.
“This is a very, very special night in Brick Township,” said Mayor John G. Ducey during his opening remarks.
The mayor thanked the everyday heroes “who keep us safe,” including the military, police officers, first responders, and teachers who “mold our future citizens of Brick Township.”
“You sit back and you just get inspired on how to live a better life, take a cause that you love and move forward with it, or just do an everyday helpful task for somebody that really needs it,” Ducey said.
Some of the honorees included resident Donna Setaro, who has become an advocate for the Move Over Law after her son, NJ State Trooper Mark Castellano was killed by a passing motorist while standing on the shoulder of Route 195.
Thanks to Setaro’s efforts, drivers must now move over one lane (or if it’s not safe to move over, then slow down below the posted speed limit) when they approach stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, garbage trucks and other highway safety vehicles.
Herbertsville Elementary School custodian Bill Groves received his award for “spreading joy and laughter, and is a role model because of his kindness and compassion and embodying the idea of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said one of the student presenters.
“As the Marines say: Hoorah!” Groves said after he received his cape. “I love my job!”
Christie Winters was given a Hero Award for her work with Seeds of Service (formerly the Visitation Relief Center), a faith-based organization that assists and advocates for the sick, poor and needy while collaborating with other community partners.
Emma Havens Young Elementary School Counselor Stefanie Gray was given a Hero Award for her success with anti-bullying efforts, and was characterized as “the epitome of grace under fire” by her presenter.
Hero Award winner Barbara Hesnan, a secretary at Warren H. Wolf Elementary School, was described as being kind, considerate and happy to help kindergartners and their families as the first face they meet when they enter the school.
Mayor Ducey presented a Hero Award to Joseph “Safety Joe” Gilsenan who has worked behind the scenes since 1996 as the township’s safety officer and risk manager to make sure township residents are safe.
“It’s pretty impossible to know the impact that “Safety Joe” has had on all of our lives because his work is to prevent injuries and accidents from happening in the first place,” Ducey said.
Other Hero Award recipients included Leonard Mancini, Kim Liguori, Jennise Nieves, Daniel Golembiewski, Amy Stainton, Madeline Iannarone, Carlie Hand, Kenny Fahnholz, Brittany Ullah, FJ Lucchetti, and Michael Cawronski.
The Brick Hero Awards were hosted by the Mayor’s Teen Advisory council from both high schools. All proceeds from the ticket sales benefited Lounge 270 – the Brick Teen Center located at the Civic Plaza on Chambers Bridge Road.