FAIR HAVEN – Turning a negative into a positive – that’s what Bobby Hoye, 18, has been doing during the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 26, Hoye, a senior at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, completed a 26.2-mile virtual marathon on a treadmill at his house in Fair Haven to raise money for healthcare employees at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.
“This was an opportunity for me to make a difference and work toward a good cause,” Hoye said.”
Hoye, like many runners, was supposed to run in the New Jersey Marathon on April 26 that was postponed until Nov. 15 because of COVID-19.
The race was part of Hoye’s training process toward competing in his first Ironman Triathlon that was supposed to take place in July. Hoye started training for the Ironman in November.
With many school events being canceled or put on hold because of the virus as well, Hoye said the pandemic changed everything for him and did not put the senior into the best frame of mind.
Hoye turned that mindset around after seeing the situation as an opportunity to help others.
That opportunity in Hoye’s eyes was to do what he was supposed to do on April 26: run a marathon, with the intent to raise money for healthcare workers, or healthcare heroes as he refers to them as.
“Healthcare workers are the unsung heroes in all of this,” Hoye said. “They are on the front lines trying to help people combat this virus. I wanted to do something to show my support and appreciation for what they are doing for us.”
Hoye reached out to a friend whose father is a cardiologist and was told that Jersey Shore University Medical Center needed and deserved donations for its work during the pandemic. He was then able to set up The Jersey Shore Marathon Fundraiser.
The next challenge for Hoye was how to set up a virtual marathon. He felt that using a treadmill would make it easier to control everything and give him an opportunity to live-stream the marathon.
Running long distances is something Hoye is used to. He is a four-year member of the Rumson-Fair Haven cross country, winter track, and spring track and field teams.
In winter track, Hoye mainly competed in the 800-meter run. During the spring track and field season, he would run the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter events, while also competing in the long jump.
Hoye was named a senior captain for all three squads this school year.
Next up in the process was figuring out how to live-stream the marathon. That’s where Hoye’s friend and Rumson Fair-Haven Student Government Association President Peyton Ming, 18, joined the cause.
Ming and Hoye have been friends since middle school and played together on the Ocean Township United Soccer Association U-14 club team.
The two have always tried to conquer new adventures during their friendship and Ming saw the marathon as another adventure he and Hoye can do to help others.
Ming was able to use the online platform Open Broadcaster Software to live-stream the marathon and link it to his personal YouTube account for people to watch the event.
“This adventure was to help others on a whole different level,” Ming said. “Putting it all together felt like being in an ESPN control room. It was a great experience to be a part of.”
The stage was now set for Hoye to step on the treadmill and tackle the 26.2-mile race.
From the start of the marathon, Ming was alongside Hoye via a virtual screen as the host of the event, cheering on his friend to help him push through the challenge of running a marathon.
The two were not alone as many people tuned in to watch virtually, sending positive words of encouragement through the chat box Ming would relay to Hoye as he ran toward his goal. Some people even called Ming to cheer on Hoye through speakerphone.
Ming would also announce any donations that were made during the marathon.
The marathon posed its challenges, but Hoye met them head on as he continued to will himself to finish the race.
Five hours and 21 minutes later, Hoye reached the end of his marathon journey with his family members and Ming giving him a round of applause.
“It was all worth it,” Hoye said. “I am very happy with all the support I got during the marathon. It was great to see the community come together to support our healthcare workers.”
The marathon was clicked on more than 1,400 times, Ming said, and had up to 73 viewers at once watching the event live.
In total, the marathon raised $5,295 by the end of the live-stream. As of May 6, The Jersey Shore Marathon Fundraiser has raised $7,429.
Hoye said the goal going into the marathon was to raise $5,000. Passing that mark, the senior hopes to raise $10,000 toward his cause.
Seeing a pandemic change everything for them during their final months at Rumson-Fair Haven, Hoye and Ming said they take pride in being able to set up the virtual marathon and will each remember it when they look back on their senior year of high school.
Ming’s next chapter will be attending Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where he intends to study graphic design.
Hoye will be making his way to Virginia to begin a joint five-year program through Roanoke College and Virginia Tech University to earn degrees in physics and environmental engineering. He plans to compete for Roanoke’s cross country and track and field squads.
“I want this to inspire people and give them hope,” Hoye said. “Our healthcare workers are not giving up. We can’t either.”
For more information, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marathonfundraiser?newPage=True