Church Cheerleaders

Ed Iannone and Nancy Soto, residents at Matheny’s group home in Basking Ridge, NJ, are regular churchgoers at the Somerset Hills Lutheran Church, also in Basking Ridge. Eric Reiss, a member of the congregation, recalls one Sunday when, “Ed asked me if I knew about Miles for Matheny. He was hoping that the church could gather people to participate. My daughter, Erica, has volunteered on projects at Matheny through the Junior Friends of Matheny chapter at Ridge High School, and she had participated in Miles for Matheny last year. So, she volunteered to coordinate efforts within the congregation and to learn more about how the church could get involved.”

Erica learned quickly. She formed a fundraising team, SHLC Cheer, which, as of May 19, had raised $1,037. Volunteers from SHLC will also create a cheering section during the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk at Miles and will help with the clean up after the event. And, Erica is hopeful of recruiting cheering volunteers from Ridge High as well. “There’s going to be a sign up in the school,” she said, “and I’m going to tell people to join the cheering section. There should be a lot of us from Ridge.”

When Iannone and Soto expressed an interest in joining the SHLC congregation, Pastor Daniel Fenco had two pews taken out to make room for their wheelchairs and caregivers. “Members of the congregation reached out to Ed and Nancy to help them feel welcome,” said Eric Reiss, “and one teenage boy, Kristian Springsteel, became an ambassador for the congregation. It was his project to make sure they felt at home and to assist them in moving around the sanctuary.

In addition to the Wheelchair Walk, Miles for Matheny activities on Sunday, June 5, in Peapack’s Liberty Park, include: five different Cycling Rides, a one-mile Fitness Walk, and a Kids Fun Run. There is also a Breakfast of Champions, provided by The Friends of Matheny, and lots of family-oriented activities and attractions including a bounce house, fire truck tours, and free ice cream and cotton candy. All funds raised at Miles for Matheny will support programs and services that enhance the lives of the students and patients at Matheny, children, teens, and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. Major sponsors are: the Poses Family Foundation, premier sponsor; the Golub Family, Mariner Wealth Advisors; Partlow Insurance; Peapack-Gladstone Bank; Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. Attorneys at Law; and WCBS Newsradio 880.

miles 16 ed, nancy, eric, erica

From left, Ed Iannone, Erica Reiss, Eric Reiss, and Nancy Soto

For more information, to register, or to form a fundraising team, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260. To support SHLC Cheer, click on Search For Participant, type in the team name, and then click Support Me!