Tom Dardani passed away earlier this year from cancer, but the legacy he left behind in South Brunswick is alive and well.
The group Dardani founded will continue his mission this Halloween of providing fun for township kids while raising money for a South Brunswick family in need. The Skull Riders, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts from throughout the area who dress up in costumes and decorate their bikes, will be taking a run through South Brunswick to give out candy to kids along their route on Oct. 31.
Dardani, 51, of Monmouth Junction, died on April 20. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he was a lifelong South Brunswick resident. He was also the founder and leader of the Dardani Haunted Trail, member of the Central Jersey Volkswagen Society, member of the Kendall Park Volunteer Fire Company, graduate of the South Brunswick Police Academy Alumni Association, and a member of the South Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.
Each year the registration fee participants pay for the Skull Riders is used to raise money for a family in need of assistance. However, the birth of the Skull Riders began more simply, Dardani said in a 2011 interview.
"It pretty much started off with me and a friend dressing up and driving around a hearse on Halloween with no particular mission," Dardani said. "We also do a haunted trail and hayride, so this was kind of a spinoff on that. It was just a way to kick back and enjoy ourselves, my way of getting out and doing something fun on Halloween. But I saw how the kids reacted and everyone seemed to enjoy it. So we invited more people the next year and it pretty much progressed over the years."
The event took on a charitable component after Dardani got the idea from other charity bike runs.
"Being a bike rider myself, and having attended other bike runs, most motorcycle riders by nature are generous type guys who like riding for a cause," Dardani said. "There's charity events all year long, and being that myself and others enjoyed the Halloween ride, we figured this would be a different spin to the charity run."
In true Dardani style, this year's Skull Rider run will benefit a family from South Brunswick with a child who was diagnosed with a serious illness. Ray Fantel is just 4-years-old and has been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
“We just bought a conversion van so Ray can sit in his wheelchair (soon he will have a power wheelchair) and be locked in safely," said Ray's mother via release. "Now, we are in the process of building an addition on the house to serve as his bedroom, bathroom and therapy room. Ray is getting too big to safely carry up and down the stairs and our house is not set up properly for him. We are so excited about the addition because it will give Ray the space that he needs and the freedom to move where he wants in his power wheelchair. The proceeds from the Halloween Run will be used for the addition, so we cannot thank you enough for your help!”
This year's Skull Riders Charity Run will take place on Oct. 31 with registration beginning at 5 p.m. at VFW Post 9111 at 11 Henderson Road. The event will include door prizes, food, and raffles.
The bike run will begin at 6:30 p.m. The route of neighborhoods the Riders will visit will be posted on South Brunswick Patch when the details are finalized. The cost per rider is $20 and the cost per passenger is $10.
Donations of prizes and candy are needed.
Monetary donations payable by check can be made out to “Skull Riders” and mailed to Wendy Nagy, 136 Deans Lane, Monmouth Jct., NJ 08852. For donations of cash, door prizes or candy please call Tracy Bell at 732-208-2418 to arrange for pick up.
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