It seemed only fitting that the final honorees at last night’s 2nd Annual Hometown Heroes Awards Gala were a group of young teenagers who were probably staying up past their normal bedtime.

Sara Aloupis, Julia Clayton, Jack McCrink and Mike McGovern truly exemplify what the organization is all about as these 7th grade honor students at the Brielle Elementary School have learned at an early age to “pay in forward.” Dubbed the Brielle Lemonade Kids, the four spent a good portion of last summer selling lemonade on a corner in the borough and raised $1530 for Autism and they plan to do it again this summer.

I helped host last night’s event at The Crystal Point in Point Pleasant as Townsquare Media was one of the major sponsors and while the kids may have stolen everyone’s heart they were not the only heroes in attendance. The other honorees….Del Flanagan a longtime active member of the Seaside Rotary Club, Toms River Municipal Alliance Coordinator Helen McGovern, Toms River High School South Athletic Trainer Deb Morante and Rene Nadeau of the New Beginnings Christian Church all epitomize with a Hometown Hero is. With little fanfare and little desire for accolades they go about their business and live their life while helping others very much under the radar.


On the surface that would not define Sean Landeta, whose pro football career spanned more than two decades. He punted for eight different teams during that time but is best known for his tenure with the Giants, which saw him earn two Super Bowl rings. A native of Baltimore who splits his time in retirement between Langhorne, Pennsylvania and Long Island, Landeta was the guest speaker last night but did much more than that. He signed autographs, posed for pictures, allowed people of look and even try on his Super Bowl rings and raffled off his own merchandise which he donated to Hometown Heroes. A very personable and giving individual, Landeta champions the causes of several charities including the Wounded Warriors project.

Hometown Heroes is a grassroots organization that has been active in the Ocean/Monmouth area for the past few years thanks largely to the passion of Co-Founder and President Michael Schwartz. In many cases they help those in dire need with things like food and housing; they’ve assisted victims of domestic violence and new mothers with nowhere to turn. If you would like to learn more about this outstanding organization then you can call (732) 473-9400 or visit