Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ’n’ ends… by Jack Wright
I HAVE a huge amount of admiration for campaigners. He or she champions a cause and then goes beyond the normal limits of human patience, endurance and determination. Most people tend to be selfish and not likely to give so much time to a cause that doesn’t necessarily benefit them, so, yes, I really admire campaigners.
Take Chad deSatnick. Ever since he suffered a near-paralyzing injury while surfing in Cape May in 2001 he has campaigned on behalf of the Life Rolls On Foundation, an organization which is aimed at inspiring and helping folks who have suffered spinal cord injuries from sporting activities.
Chad’s injury (he broke two vertebrae in his neck) happened because of the unnatural surf breaks on Cape May’s beaches, caused by beach replenishment. It’s because of him that there are signs on the beaches warning of “Dangerous Shorebreak” and it’s because of him that there are tens of thousands of leaflets being distributed to beach-goers warning them of the dangers.
Wait… let me reword that – the leaflets have been printed, but it seems that the city is doing a rather poor job of distributing them.
When Chad recently discovered that many of the leaflets were sitting in the beach tag offices and not being handed out by the beach taggers to every person walking on to the beach he was understandably not very happy.
He was told by someone at the beach tag office that it wasn’t feasible for the taggers to hand out leaflets.
“I understand that the beach taggers have a job to do, but isn’t this the most direct way to having the brochures into the beach patrons’ hands?” said Chad.
He told me that he’s had no joy with Cape May City Manager Bruce MacLeod, who hasn’t returned his calls and who recently refused to be interviewed on the subject by a reporter from FoxNews in Philadelphia.
While Chad was being interviewed by the TV reporter on a recent weekend, there were two injuries on the beach within 45 minutes of each other, Chad told me. “One was a young girl, probably eight years old, who was slammed face first into the beach at Baltimore Avenue. She was bloodied, but did not suffer any injury to her back or neck.
“The second injury was to a middle-aged male who was slammed into the shallow shore break at Pittsburgh Avenue, when attempting to simply walk out of the water. He was taken off the beach on a flat board, the CM Fire Department responded, and then paramedics from AtlantiCare responded.”
Chad has also been taking his message to local schools to educate kids about the dangers.
“The Dangerous Shorebreak signs were a step in the right direction,” said Chad, “as well as the beach safety brochures, but the ultimate fix is to use machinery to dampen the steep slope that is currently up and down the beachfront.”
I know that Bruce MacLeod, as well as Mayor Ed Mahaney and the four other council members, have their hands full with the convention hall controversy, but this is a really, really important issue. People are regulrly being hurt on Cape May’s beaches and it won’t be long before this becomes the kind of bad PR any beach town would want to run a mile from.
Let’s not wait until someone actually dies or becomes crippled for life. Chad deSatnick knows more about this subject than any other person in town. He’s not being a gadfly just to rile local officials – he’s seen what spinal cord injuries can do to people and he desperately wants to avoid that happening in Cape May.
So, step one… how about we give every beach tagger a big bunch of safety leaflets to give out to every beach-goer. And as for the concerns that they will end up being littered on the beach. Well, that’s what the beach cleaner is for and, besides, that’s a better alternative than having a body on the beach.
Secondly, the council should consider the machinery that Chad is talking about. I would hate for him to be proved right any time soon.
³ I ASKED you to tell me exactly why you love Cape May, and around 30 readers took the time to write a note (in some cases, a very long note) sharing their love of this town. We will be publishing the stories in our next color issue, which comes out September 20. We awarded $50 gift certificates for the EZ store to the writers of our five favorite stories, and the winners are: Marie Pagliuca, Jessie Weeks, Ernestine Zeli-Bove, Rich Nowakowski and Barbara Kapusta. Congratulations, guys.
I am going on vacation, first to Poland, for the wedding of legendary EZ photographer Maciej Nabrdalik, and then to see the family in Scotland. See you in a couple weeks!