For Ed Buecker, “bringing a little joy” to the lives of a family feeling the effects of a loved one suffering from a catastrophic illness is a mission he has taken on for years – with a lot of help from the Brick community.
The Bobby Buecker Foundation – named for Ed’s son, who lost his life to cancer in 1998 at age 15 – helps fill the gaps that other nonprofit organizations frequently miss, such as meals, travel expenses, or some help with bills. The organization began after Bobby died, and the family found themselves with a large amount of money the community had raised to help them during his illness. Instead of spending it, they decided to help other families facing what they had already lived through, and the foundation was born.
On Saturday night, more than 380 local residents gathered for the organization’s signature event – an annual dinner-dance held at St. Dominic Parish Center dubbed “Cocktails, Carrabba’s & The Infernos.”
Organized by John Catalano, a longtime friend of the Buecker family, Carrabba’s donates food for the event, and The Infernos, a legendary Jersey Shore cover band, provides the entertainment. Also recognized this year was the Metedeconk River Yacht Club, which selected the foundation as the beneficiary of a charity sailing event that was held last summer. But the best part is the difference those who attend make in the lives of families facing unimaginable challenges.
“What we have here is community,” said Ed Buecker. “Wonderful, wonderful people who come out and honor my son’s name and our family with this foundation.”
“We’re just a grassroots foundation,” he continued. “We help out with the little things and make a little joy in people’s lives who are battling and struggling with the trials of illness and life. That’s all we do, and if we can put smiles on people’s faces, that’s what we’re all about.”
One supporter who has been attending the event for several years is Congressman Tom MacArthur, who suffered the loss of his 11-year-old daughter in 1996, the same year Bobby Buecker was diagnosed with cancer.
“For someone to take a tragic event in their life, and turn it into a blessing for many, many others, God bless you for what you do,” MacArthur told Buecker.
Ed Buecker will also be honored this year with the Boy Scouts of America’s Good Turn award, said Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist, who made the announcement at Saturday’s event.
“I get to meet a lot of people who really give a lot of things back to this community, and Eddie, you’ve given a lot to this community for many years,” said Bergquist.
Buecker said he will continue to run the foundation as long as he has the support of the Brick community.
“The thing for me tonight is gratitude – gratitude for having each and every one of you in our lives to keep this foundation going,” Buecker said. “It’s tough out there, many of us are constantly juggling and reworking the checkbook every month and it gets difficult, but you guys keep supporting us and supporting us.”