BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP --- Kenny “Toes” Cranmer loved to go fast.
The now Waretown resident raced everything from speedboats to lawnmowers in his quest for speed.
Tragically it was that pursuit that resulted in a racing accident that has for now left him mostly paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
Cranmer was thrown from his high performance garvey last summer during a race in Lavallette.
But that didn’t stop the 40-something speedster from coming out to the races Sunday at the Barnegat Docks on East Bay Avenue.
The races and whole day were actually in his honor and was a fund raiser for him and his family sponsored by fellow racers.
An estimated crowd of 500 or more also attended the event that featured races in several boat divisions, a classic car competition and motorcycle rally.
Sitting under a tent with his family, the man of honor was all smiles greeting the hundreds of well-wishers that stopped by to see him.
Meanwhile down on Mott’s Creek in Galloway, volunteers were preparing for an evening pig roast at the end of the rally, featuring food, drinks and live music.
“He is in great spirits and really wanted to be here,” said daughter Lindsay. She and her sister Jennie who live close by are over at their father’s house every day helping their mom, Bonnie, she added.
Despite his limitations and the use of ventilator to help his breathing, Cramner used the power chair to maneuver from side to side to “fist bump” with friends and follow the races out on the bay.
Paul Hulse, one of the organizers, said “Toes” had regained a lot of the use of his one hand and uses it to keep in touch with folks via an iPad, as well as to operate the chair.
On Tuesday, Hukse said the event had raised approxiamtely $5000 for Cramner who is now without any health coverage other than Medicaid.
“He’ll probably figure out how to race that chair by next year,” joked another friend as he walked away after stopping to chat.
East Coast Boat Racers of New Jersey, sponsors of the event, called it the “Freedom Race and Bike Rally for Toes.” The race portion concluded with an all classes race for the first annual “Toes Trophy” and another trophy was presented to the winner of the car show.
The race winner was Mike Yagiello in his brand new two barrel stock boat “2 Extreme.”
A bright blue 1947 Chevy pick-up took home the gold in the car show for “Bill from Tuckerton.”
Two radio stations were broadcasting live, as well a DJ to keep folks rocking between races. There were also face painters, food vendors and an ice cream truck for children of all ages to help keep them cool on hot summer afternoon.
Cranmer’s love to race was well-known to fellow racers and friends alike. “Kenny only knew how to run one way, all out,” said Bill Hewitt, who used to race lawnmowers with him.
Not your daddy’s riding mower, but high performance mini-machines like the one Hewitt was tooling around the parking lot capable or going more than 70 mph.
“I’ve got $6,000 in this machine,” he said adding the 23- horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine was ramped up to produce 65 hp.
Back at the bike rally registration table, much larger metal monsters and their riders were gathering. Harley-Davidsons, seem to be in the majority with a replica of a pre-war Indian getting some appreciative glances from the crowd.
In charge of the rally, roast, T-shirts and just about everything non-race-related, organizer Jeannine Fucci said it would not be until sometime on Monday when she would figure out just how much they had raised. But she expected the Pig Roast, which called for a $30 donation, to sell out.
The commemorative T-shirts that could be seen being worn everywhere around the docks were also selling briskly, she added.
Note: Commenrative T-Shirts are still available and donations still be accepted. Call Jeannnie Fucci at 201-280-3808 or go to www.ecbrcnj.org