One man can touch so many lives, that any time spent with him can be remembered by all those who knew him, however briefly, years later. That’s the feeling that Fred Vogel has about his brother, Mark, who died at 33 in 2001.
“My brother was a large person in Secaucus, despite of his physical size,” Vogel said. “He stood out. He had personality. People adored my brother. I felt sad for so many others when he died. It was a major loss for the town and the community.”
Since Mark touched so many lives, as a firefighter, public works employee, first aid squad member, volunteer, friend, and loved one, Fred has been on a crusade for the last 12 years to honor his memory and to hopefully find answers to achondroplasia dwarfism, the condition Mark was born with and which eventually contributed to his passing.
Motorcycle run and barbecue
On Sept. 28, the third annual Mark Vogel Memorial Motorcycle Run and Barbecue will be held in Buchmuller Park in Secaucus (rain date: Sept. 29). Tickets are $25 for bikers, $20 for riders, and $15 for the barbecue ($10 for children under 12).
Vogel invites all to come to the event, those who have dwarfism, and those who don’t.
“I want people to come and interact,” he said. “I want to bring those two separate worlds together.”
Roster of activities
This year’s festivities include: picnic food, water, and soda, T-shirts for the first 50 motorcycle riders, deejay “Shorty Rock,” the “Rivercat Band,” professional wrestling, and “King Rommel” bike stunts. There will also be T-shirts and lapel pins for purchase to benefit the cause.
The day will start with bike registration at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m. sharp, those participating in the 45-mile escorted run will depart. At noon, community events will commence, and at 1 p.m., the band will start playing. Food will be served when the bikers return. Between 2:30 and 3, wrestling will begin, and about 6 p.m. the fundraiser will draw to a close.
“He lived to help and serve others,” Vogel said of his brother. “This foundation was established in Mark’s memory to support Little People of America’s (LPA) Garden State Chapter and understanding dwarfism, and with your help, we hope to continue to support even more people affected with dwarfism.”
Vogel said that much of the public is unaware that dwarfism consists of more than 200 different classifications, and that it is a severe medical condition, a compression of the lower spine. In fact, his brother died after undergoing a spinal stenosis.
And then, of course, there is the emotional aspect to deal with if you have the condition, or are a loved one of a person who does.
“He lived to help and serve others.” – Fred Vogel
But Vogel feels there is hope, as society’s outlook of the condition is more positive now. Inroads are being made all the time, he said.
“At last year’s event, we announced that with the help of Assemblyman Vincent Prieto that October would be recognized as Dwarfism Awareness Month in New Jersey,” Vogel said. “We are pleased that it has become a reality. This year’s event will kick off Dwarfism Awareness Month 2013.”
Vogel praised Mayor Michael Gonnelli and members of the Town Council for their support of his annual endeavor. He also mentioned the efforts of Kevin O’Connor, head of the department of public works, and Ray Cechue, volunteer hook and ladder member.
Sponsors for the bike run and barbecue are: Charlie’s Corner, Cheeseburgers in Paradise Bar & Grill, Giovanni’s Italian Deli, Natoli’s Italian Deli, and Steffen’s Provisions. Other sponsors are D2W Wrestlers, King Rommel bike stunts, the Rivercat band, deejay Shorty Rocks, and Impressive Printing, Inc.
How to help
Vogel urged residents to attend, but said that even if that’s not possible there are other ways to help, by making a tax-deductible contribution to the foundation; donating food, drinks, or giveaways to the event; or introducing colleagues, friends, or family members to the organization and its mission.
Anyone seeking more information about the foundation, or about ways to help, can contact Vogel by phone (201) 469-6676 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit www.mvmf.net.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.