Ed Kloskowski is not a designer or an architect. But upon seeing his native New Jersey struggling in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he took it upon himself to do what he does in the name of awareness for recovery: Ed ran. Ed ran the length of New Jersey, 220 miles from November 16-21 CARRYING A FLAG, meeting community members and raising nearly $10,000 online and for Sandy recovery. We appreciate his support as we launch our New Jersey and New York programs for long-term sustainable reconstruction.
Run4NJ launched after a simple observation: Ed, who was not dramatically affected by the storm, wanted to raise awareness for those who had.
"I wanted to extend help more broadly than what I could do alone," he writes. "I thought running through the state would help call attention to the struggles our friends and neighbors were going through post-Hurricane Sandy here in New Jersey."
It's 220 miles from his starting point at Highpoint State Park to the bottom tip of New Jersey–the beach at Cape May. Ed covered it in 6 days, with stops to eat, to sleep and to visit, including his home town of Sayreville.
Ed set up some fundraising tools and reached out to friends and strangers, letting them follow his progress down the state. Throughout the run Ed maintained a Facebook page of his progress and thoughts.
The road was not all easy–in fact hardly any of it was, as Ed shares in a Q & A "After Action Report."
"I covered an average 44 miles per day. Each day I was on the road for about 14 hours and had around 2-3 hours of prepping for the day and breaking down for the day and cleaning up. So each day lasted up to 17 hours."
The run was hard from Day 1.
"The toughest part of the course was the first 75 miles and the hills. Going down hill for the first half of a day wasted my quads and then going largely uphill for the rest of that day finished me off. My legs were toast."
On carrying the flag: "I carried it the whole way. It was 3x5 foot outdoor quality material on a 8 foot aluminum pole. It weighed several million tons. Once I committed to carrying it I knew it would have to be the whole way or the meaning would be diminished. It was hard on my forearms, shoulders, arms, and it really threw off my running form. It wasn’t that heavy, but it made going that much harder. But I would not trade a single second with that flag for anything."
But the difficulty was kind of the point.
"I wanted the run to be a metaphor for what the affected residents are going through. I didn’t think they have it easy right now, so I didn’t expect it to be easy in anyway."
Every incredible journey bring with it discovery–Ed's run was no different.
"NJ is a diverse state with areas that range from Vermont like hilly, to flat coastal, urban decay cities, rural towns & villages. It has miles of empty and lonely. The people here are as beautiful as the countryside.
I learned the difference between pain and suffering (one is physical the other is mental, one can be controlled the other cant).
"And in a simple, profound way I learned to be thankful for home and stopping."
Ed's run became a local rallying point for supporting neighbors devastated by disaster. Ed shows how a commitment and dedication to our neighbors, expressing empathy and support, is really the first solid foundation laid in a community's recovery. We rely every day on people choosing to help others that they will never meet. Ed has made that connection real for so many of us out there.
We have several ongoing fundraising campaigns for Sandy Relief:
- Restore the Shore is raising money for the community of Seaside Heights - focusing on the town's economic engine–the boardwalk
- Rebuild One Block is raising funds to rebuild homes and the neighborhood bar of NYC's first responders in Far Rockaway, New York.
Images by Ed Kloskowski and the Villanovan