Friends rally to support crash victim

  • JACKSON — Many old friends remain just that — old friends — often through thick and thin.
  • Tommy McKenna, Charles F. Wetherell and Ray Durao grew up together in Jackson, attended Jackson Memorial High School together and still live in the township.

    They have remained close friends over the years, but now McKenna, 42, is recovering from serious injuries he suffered in an automobile accident on April 23 that almost took his life.

    Wetherell, a Lakewood attorney and Jackson Chamber of Commerce trustee, and Durao, the parts manager at King Cars, Freehold Township, are among the many friends and others who are organizing a benefit golf outing on behalf of McKenna, who is the assistant parts manager at King Cars.

    The event will be held on Sept. 22 at the Pine Barrens Golf Club, South Hope Chapel Road.

    The golf outing is being held under the auspices of the Circle of Hopes and Dreams, which was created to help individuals who have suffered severe spinal cord injuries and their families. The McKenna Cup Golf Classic will provide financial aid to McKenna, who is currently being treated for his injuries at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange.

    McKenna suffered multiple injuries when he was involved in a two-car accident at Jackson Mills and Bergerville roads in Freehold Township as he was returning home to Jackson after work on the afternoon of April 23, according to his two friends.

    “He was hit by a pickup truck that went through a stop sign,” Wetherell said. “Tommy’s car was completely destroyed by the crash. He was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for emergency treatment and later transferred to Kessler.”

    McKenna still faces a long, uphill battle, Wetherell said.

    “As a result of this car accident, Tommy has been left with severe spinal paralysis, the loss of his spleen and many broken and crushed bones,” Wetherell said. “Tommy has undergone several surgeries to repair internal injuries, including his damaged vertebrae and spinal chord. Tommy has begun his rehabilitation, but the uphill battle to overcome the severe physical damage has devastated his ability to return to his previous life.”

    “The three of us grew up together in Jackson,” said Durao, who is McKenna’s boss at King Cars. “We’ve worked together here for 17 years. He is well liked here at King Cars. He is a good guy to work with. He was on his way home when the accident happened.”

    Registration for the benefit golf outing is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Sept. 22 when a continental breakfast will be provided. Reservations must be received by Sept. 13.

    The price for foursomes is $800, while individual golfers will be charged


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    $200. Included in the price for players is greens fee, cart, continental breakfast, barbecue lunch, open bar, hole-in-one contests for prizes that include a new BMW car and a one-year membership to Pine Barrens. The cost of sponsoring one hole is $125.

    Checks should be made payable to Circle of Hopes and Dreams Inc. and mailed to 330 Clearstream Road, Jackson 08527. For further information send an e-mail to

    “Tommy himself was an avid golfer and a member of the Jackson Golf Club,” Wetherell said. “The intent of this tournament is to give Tommy financial support to endure this difficult time and hopefully overcome the many challenges that lie ahead. There will be many medical expenses. For example, he will need a specialized wheelchair that will cost $30,000. His prospects are as good as can be expected, but he is lucky to still be alive after such a terrible accident.”