Evesham Township is looking for some heroes this summer.
Specifically, the township is looking for heroes to help raise awareness for the importance of using designated drivers to prevent driving while under the influence.
To that end, this week saw a joint press conference where Evesham Township and the John R. Elliot HERO Campaign partnered to kickoff the Highway HEROES initiative in Evesham Township.
The HERO Campaign is a non-profit group that works to prevent motorists from driving while under the influence through the promotion of designated drivers.
The group bears the name of Navy Ensign John R. Elliott of Egg Harbor Township, who died after a drunk driver collided with him in 2000.
Since its inception, the group has partnered with municipalities, schools, colleges, bars and other groups throughout the region – with the group having registered more than 100,000 designated drivers.
With the group’s Highway HEROES initiative, already in progress in Atlantic and Cape May Counties, the group seeks to distribute thousands of “HERO” decals to drivers throughout Evesham Township starting on the July 4 holiday.
The decals promote the message “Be a HERO – Be a Designated Driver,” and motorists who affix the decals to their vehicles as part of the promotional campaign can receive thank you gift certificates provided by local businesses.
Members of the Evesham Township Police Department were also on hand at this week’s press conference for the unveiling of a HERO Campaign-themed police cruiser.
The vehicle, branded with the same logo and message as the “Be a HERO” decals, is scheduled to be displayed at special events throughout the township, such as parades and the Project Graduation event scheduled after Cherokee High School’s graduation.
Bill Elliot, father of John R. Elliott and chairman/co-founder of the HERO Campaign, said he wanted to share a frequent quote of his wife when he said “We have a cure for drunk driving – it’s called a designated driver.”
Elliot said he and his foundation were proud to partner with Evesham Township, and he said there was no reason for motorists to drink and drive when modern technology makes it easier than ever to contact friends and family members, or services like a private taxi, UBER or Lyft.
“This is a comprehensive program to make sure everybody knows that Evesham wants to be a zero DUI township,” Elliot said.
Evesham Chief of Police Christopher Chew also described the campaign’s partnership with the township as an important moment for his department and the community at large.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure that individuals who are out having a couple of drinks and having a good time take alternative measures, instead of getting behind the wheel and getting into tragic accidents, hurting themselves and hurting others,” Chew said.
Mayor Jaclyn Veasy, also on hand for this week’s press conference, said officials specifically chose to speak on June 17 to coincide with the scheduled graduation of local high schools – which Veasy said was the beginning of summer for many locals.
“[Summer] is a good time for everyone to be out and about celebrating with friends and family, and we just want to make sure we encourage everyone to use a designated driver and be mindful of designated drivers,” Veasy said.
Veasy said she was fortunate to have worked with Bill Elliot and his foundation throughout the process of launching the Highway HEROES initiative in Evesham Township, and she was looking forward to seeing folks in town promoting the HERO Campaign throughout the summer.
Richard Sweeney, a member of the HERO Campaign board, helped sponsor the wrapping of the ETPD cruiser through his role with building trades and Iron Workers in Southern New Jersey. Republic Bank also donated $3,000 to help sponsor the Highway HEROES initiative in Evesham Township.