"There are about 1,500 bars between Sandy Hook and Cape May," said Bill Elliott, the campaign's founder and chairman. "We are working to sign up as many of those bars as possible with the campaign. We want people to see a HERO Campaign sticker on the door of a tavern when they walk in and know that bar is trying to keep people safe."
In 2000 Bill Elliott's son, Navy Ensign John Elliott, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, was on his way home for his mother's birthday when he was killed by a drunken driver. The driver had been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, but was released only to get back in the car drunk, killing himself and John.
Now, in an effort to stop that kind of tragedy from happening again, taverns such as The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and many of the bars in Atlantic City's casinos are throwing their weight behind the Jersey Shore HEROS Campaign.
"We are trying to change the behavior of both patrons and staff at the bars," Elliott said. "We want tavern owners to promote the HERO Campaign message with the right kind of materials. To do that, we've trained our own people to properly support, train and supply the bars with what the bar owners and staff need to get designated drivers into cars at the Jersey Shore."
The HERO Campaign has hosted several presentations for bar and tavern owners during the last couple of months, and has several more scheduled. These presentations make owners aware of the campaign and put promotional materials into the hands of the people who can have a positive effect on reducing the number of drunken drivers in the state.
The next meeting for the Jersey Shore HEROES Campaign is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 14 at the Tun Tavern in Atlantic City.
More than 100 bars and restaurants have already signed up for the HEROES campaign, but Elliott hopes to have about 500 signed up by the end of June. Each establishment that signs up is linked at the JerseyShoreHeroes.org Web site, and the names of participating bars are also provided to the media.
"All of the bar and tavern owners that I've spoken to want to do the right thing and keep their patrons safe," Elliott said. "We want to let people know about the bar owners' commitment to safety. Because they're the ones telling people about the HERO Campaign at the time they need to hear it most."
The HERO Campaign is not an anti-drinking campaign. Instead, we encourage common sense and responsibility by promoting individuals to "Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver;" a message that appeals to the hero in all of us. For more information call 609.626.3880 or visit us on the Web at http://www.herocampaign.com.