At Coyne PR, we’ve always known that great communications can change the world. We’ve seen public relations be the multiplier that helps fund charities, save factories, inspire a movement, defend the righteous and give voice to the voiceless. That’s why I’m humbled when I think about what our agency has helped accomplish with the Seaside Semper Five – an event we were instrumental in creating.
For the past six years, employees across the agency have come together in various capacities to help grow this annual New Jersey tradition into one of the state’s premier 5K road races. Serving as a fundraiser for the Marine Raider Foundation, the race supports active duty and medically retired Marine Raiders and their families as well as the families of Marines and sailors who have lost their lives in service to the United States. Over the past six years, the race has helped raise nearly $300,000, with all proceeds going directly to help those who’ve sacrificed the most for our country.
The race, which starts and finishes at the Beachcomber Bar and Grill in Seaside Heights, is one of the only certified running courses in the country that takes place along a picturesque ocean-front boardwalk. Since its inception, the race has attracted over 7,000 runners from across the country with a host of runners joining from around the world. What started as a simple idea has grown into an international celebration with races occurring congruently on military bases in Kabul, Afghanistan; Kigali, Rwanda; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In addition to the runners, thousands of spectators line the boardwalk each year to cheer on the participants. Attendees have included Toms River Mayor, Thomas F. Kelaher; Seaside Heights Mayor, Tony E. Vaz; Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal; State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan; and NJ Governor Phil Murphy. Also attending every year is a large contingency of active-duty military from McGuire/Ft. Dix as well as Lieutenant Colonel Andy Christian who commanded 1st Marine Raider Battalion and lead the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
The race gained international recognition three years ago when it became the target of a terror attack. The 2016 race was about to start when a pipe bomb-type device, which had been placed in a trash can, exploded along the race route at the corner of D Street and Ocean Avenue in Seaside Park. Fortunately, no one was injured in the attack and the event returned the following year bigger and better than ever.
For our ongoing service to the race, Coyne was presented with the distinct honor of receiving a Recon Paddle from the Marine Raiders’ director of operations. Every Recon Marine is presented with a paddle from his peers when he leaves the unit or the Marine Corps. But, Reconnaissance Marines may on certain occasions give a paddle ceremoniously to civilians or units that have worked with recon Marines in an exceptional way.
As an agency-wide initiative for the past six years, many dedicated Coyne employees have volunteered their time and talents to make the Seaside Semper Five the amazingly successful event it has become. In addition to the dozens of employees who race each year, our very own Associate Creative Director Paul Zakrzewski created the race logo that has now gone international. Paul also designs the posters that line the boardwalk and shops along the Jersey shore, creates the official race t-shirts worn by thousands every year and serves as the voice of the Seaside Semper Five on all social media. SVP and Executive Creative Director Rob Schnapp developed an award-winning ad with the image of a military boot morphing into a running shoe that has become the recognized symbol of the race.
Rob and the studio team also worked with our partners at Grey Sky Films to create a PSA for this year’s race. And Joe Gargiulo (SVP) and his team conduct media outreach securing tons of coverage each year including a longstanding partnership with News12.
Henry Notaro, of Northfield, NJ, captured first place in this year’s sixth-annual Seaside Semper Five, but the real winners are the many Marines, sailors and their families that this race has been able to help. I could not be more proud of my colleagues at Coyne who have worked so hard over the years to make the Seaside Semper Five such a success. This is WHY we do what we do.