May 18, 2015
By Brittany M. Wehner
Participants of the Justin T. Barnabei Foundation’s first fundraising poker run event Saturday, May 9, 2015 stand by the gravesite in Shiloh of Barnabei, who died at 18 years old from leukemia. The foundation held a bike run that traveled through the region, including a special stop at the gravesite for a prayer (Submitted Photo | For NJ.com)
Family and friends of the beloved teenager who lost his fight with leukemia last year recently pulled together for a fundraiser in hopes of bringing comfort and awareness to others.
Justin T. Barnabei was just 18 years old when he died, but his spirit was alive and rode alongside family and members of the foundation created in his name during the first bike run throughout Salem, Cumberland and Camden counties.
Starting at the American Legion Post in Blackwood, 26 motorcycles were registered for the 90-mile ride in tribute of Barnabei.
The Justin T. Barnabei Foundation raised nearly $3,000 through the event, which was held May 9, according to Barnabei’s uncle, Daniel Drutz.
The foundation was established last year with a goal to provide scholarships to local Cumberland students, pass on awareness about pediatric cancer and provide support to other families.
“The foundation is extremely excited about the success of our first event. It was a great day and gave us the opportunity to share Justin’s story with a lot of people,” Drutz said Monday.
An emotional pitstop was made in Shiloh, Cumberland County, at the gravesite of the teenager, where a prayer was said and love was shared.
“We are grateful for all the support of the stops on the run, the American Legion Post in Blackwood, the Rowan University volleyball team, and everyone else that made the event a success,” Drutz said.
What’s next for the foundation? Drutz explained they will be busy planing another event for the fall — a beef and beer and participation in the Harvest Festival — as well as providing scholarships to local students.
In June, $250 scholarship will be presented to a student at Fairfield Township Middle School and $500 to a student at Cumberland Regional.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.teambarnabei.org.