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Jack Elwood benefit concert set for former teacher with ALS

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

“I don’t look backward with regret,” Jack Elwood once said. “I only look forward with great expectations.” This year, a benefit concert for Jack is set for Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Saddle Ridge Riding Center in Franklin Lakes. All of the proceeds go to Jack and his family. This story has all the info you need to attend, volunteer — or donate.


An entire community has fed off the courage of the former Ridgewood High School physical education and health teacher, who was diagnosed six years ago with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Each year, district administrators, teachers students and parents find a way to honor Elwood, 58, who taught at the school for more than three decades before he was confined to a motorized wheelchair.

Their support “gives me an awful lot of strength to continue,” he has said.

As those who know about ALS can tell you, the degenerative, potentially fatal disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Muscle control is progressively lost. Breathing can become difficult. Thousands of people in the U.S. alone are diagnosed with ALS each year.

Over the years, Jack has donated as much of his own time — and body — to help researchers find a cure. Although every day presents another challenge for him and his family, he keeps loved ones and friends upbeat with his optimism. As a former student once said: “When he asks you how your day is going, he really means it.”

The community returns the love in spades, uniting to stage and attend the annual fundraisers. There have been Jack Elwood 5K runs, golf outings, a concert by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, and events at Graydon Pool, where Jack was a manager for more than 20 years.

“One of the reasons I’ve done so well with this is that I’ve got all this support, emotionally and spiritually,” he once said. “It lifts you up.”

WHERE : 900 Shadow Ridge Rd, off Pulis Ave. (see map)
WHEN : Noon to 4 p.m., Oct. 3 (gates open 10:30/ rain or shine)
WHO : Dan Brothers Band & Reddan Brothers Band
GATE : $20 adults; $5 children under 10

NOTES : Bring a lawn chair or beach blanket (it’s all sand).

Hamburgers, hot dogs and water will be sold. Tickets also are available by clicking on this link at .

Proceeds will help offset current and future medical care for Jack, whose wife, Laura, teaches at Smith School in Ramsey and whose daughter attends Valley Middle School in Oakland.

For more information or to make a donation , contact Ed or Wendy Vandercliff at 845.544.2274 or call Gina Jager at 201.847.9999.

Ed and Wendy are also seeking volunteers the day of the concert to help with set-up, crowd control and clean-up. Tell them CLIFFVIEWPILOT sent you.

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