An idea became a vision; a vision became a mission; and a mission brought Operation Beachhead to life.
This life continues to grow through the support of people who wish to show their appreciation and thanks to our veterans.

Operation Beachhead

An idea became a vision; a vision became a mission;
and a mission brought Operation Beachhead to life.

Meg Baker from NY CBS news, visited Operation Beachhead's sled hockey on January 11 2017. To see the report, click the link below.
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/01/11/veterans-play-hockey/

Listen to Michael Ricci's interview with host Lisa Anderson from WJRZ Around Ocean County. Click on the links to hear the full interview.

Part I

Part 2

Bruce Boyle, sharing his love of the ocean one wave at a time ~ from the Coast Star, August 11, 2016

For Bruce Boyle, the ocean is just as much a part of him as his skin and bones.

He began surfing at the age of 3, cultivating adoration and respect for the ocean unique to those who ride its waves.

Surfing has taken him around the world, from Mexico to Indonesia, chasing down the perfect wave.

But today, Mr. Boyle is less focused on chasing waves and more intent on, as he says “sharing the stoke.”


SHARING HIS LOVE OF THE OCEAN

Operation Beachhead is a Sea Girt-based nonprofit organization that supports disabled veterans and civilians by providing them with adaptive recreational and social activities. As the organization’s “head water man,” Mr. Boyle oversees Operation Beachhead’s summer beach days, during which disabled participants can surf, boogie board, kayak and paddleboard. During the beach outings, Mr. Boyle can be found in the water, helping participants catch a wave. “You push someone into a wave and you see some smiles like you’ve never seen before,” said Mr. Boyle, who has worked with a wide range of participants, from autistic children to disabled military veterans. “You see the inner stoke in these people and that’s all the reward I need, to see somebody who’s kind of down in the dumps, a little grumpy on the beach, a little nervous, they get a couple of waves and they’re smiling ear to ear,” he said.


Mr. Boyle has spent seven summers leading Operation Beachhead’s water events. He was initially turned on to the restorative nature of the ocean after getting involved with the High Fives Foundation. Started by a friend whose spine was broken in a skiing accident, the foundation supports individuals with spinal injuries. “I took a couple of guys surfing who had spinal injuries and it was great,” he recalled.

“I got them back in the water, they were smiling and it was just a great form of ‘sea-hab,’ ” Mr. Boyle said. Once he heard about Operation Beachhead’s mission, Mr. Boyle said he immediately signed on and hasn’t looked back.


“It’s just really rewarding to get these people in the water and share some stoke,” he said. “Anyone who needs assistance, I’ll share my love of the ocean with them and show them how much it means to me.” Operation Beachhead was founded with the mission of supporting wounded and disabled veterans, Mr. Boyle explained. While serving veterans will always be at the core of its mission, Operation Beachhead has since opened itself up to any willing participant with a disability, civilian or military. “It started out as vets and that will always be our core, but anybody who needs to get down and would like to get in the water we want to support them and supply some stoke,” Mr. Boyle said.


Most recently, Operation Beachhead has begun working with individuals with autism, which Mr. Boyle said has been a real game changer.

“You get these kids on the beach who are going 100 miles an hour and you get them in the water and it’s so soothing to them,” Mr. Boyle said of working with the children. “It’s really special because you see all the difficulties these parents go through on the beach with their child who has [autism] and ... the water is so soothing, it soothes them to their core,” he said. 


Looking to the future of Operation Beachhead, Mr. Boyle said he hopes to expand the program to sponsor disabled individuals who could not otherwise afford to spend a day at the beach. “We already have enough money for the boards and all the gear, now I think the money should go to getting participants to us that can’t get to us on their own,” he said. “That’s where I want to take this program.”


A FAMILY TRADITION

Mr. Boyle’s love of the sea was instilled in him at a young age by his parents.

He started surfing at just 3-years-old, he said, encouraged by his siblings to go after waves he would have otherwise bailed out of.

With his two brothers and two sisters riding the waves alongside him, surfing was a family tradition, one that he carries on today with his own family.

“It’s just a real deep love of mine ... the ocean is a big part of me and my family and now I have all of my kids surfing,” Mr. Boyle said.

Raising the next generation of Sea Girt surfers, Mr. Boyle and his wife, Elizabeth Boyle, have four children: Emma, 8, Gage, 6, Luke, 5, and Bruce Lee, 4.

“They’ve all started under a year old and I take all four kids surfing as much as possible,” he said, recalling that he would take his children out on the board with him in their infancy.


Today, the Boyle groms are riding right alongside their dad.

Just as Mr. Boyle is passionate about sharing his love of the surf with Operation Beachhead’s participants, it is just as important to him to inspire that passion in his children — not only for surfing, but for service. “I’ve surfed all over the world and I’ll still continue to do that, but now it’s my kids’ turn. Now it’s my chance to get my kids surfing and get them giving back too,” he said. His children regularly attend Operation Beachhead’s beach events to lend a helping hand where they can or simply cheer on the participants. “It’s just great to get them involved,” Mr. Boyle said.


Family is central to Mr. Boyle’s life, both on and off the beach, and without the support of his wife Elizabeth, he said none of his work with Operation Beachhead or his time spent on the water would be possible. “I have four kids and two dogs, so we have our hands full,” he explained.

“I’m lucky enough to have a wife that will pick up the slack, watch all the critters and free up my time to go do what I love to do,” he said.

And, according to Mr. Boyle, he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.


“After you see some smiles from pushing people into the waves,” he said, “it’s something I’ll do for the rest of my life.”

Operation Beachhead kicks off 2015 summer season ~ Coast Star, June 6, 2015

Recent NJ Hero grant helps pay for new beach wheelchairs

By Brian Harris

SEA GIRT — Heading into their fourth summer, the non-profit organization Operation Beachhead is kicking off their summer season on June 13 with their “Operation Beachhead Day” at the Beacon Avenue beach in Sea Girt from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Operation Beachhead, which was started by Wall resident Michael Ricci in 2011, sets up and hosts fun activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities year-round, including sled hockey during the winter and boogie boarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and surfing during the summer months.

According to the organization’s website, “In a 2012 proclamation by the Board of Chosen Freeholders and 2012 resolution proposed by Senator Robert Singer and Assemblymen David Rible and Sean Kean, June 14 was declared as ‘Operation Beachhead Day’ in Monmouth County” — and the day has served as the kick-off to the organization’s summer season ever since.


For Mr. Ricci, the mission statement for Operation Beachhead is one that is near and dear to his heart as he is a disabled veteran, having sustained permanent injuries to his legs in combat during the Vietnam War. He said he understands the feeling that a veteran or anyone with a disability has when they go out and try a new sport they thought they never could, like surfing.The growing notice and popularity of Operation Beachhead is something that is not lost on Mr. Ricci, as it has lead not only to recognition but also to donations coming in — including from New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, who presented Mr. Ricci and his organization with a $5,900 grant for the purchase of more beach-adaptable wheelchairs that can be used at Operation Beachhead events throughout the summer.

“It’s really exploding,” Mr. Ricci said about the popularity of his organization. “[Operation Beachhead] Day will be good because we have a host of new volunteers.”

Operation Beachhead Day is the kick-off for the other events the organization is holding this summer, including Oscar Mike Weekend, which is done with the Oscar Mike Foundation.

Like Operation Beachhead, the Oscar Mike Foundation is an organization started by a disabled veteran named Noah Currier who, like Mr. Ricci, has the goal of getting disabled veterans active again.

According to Mr. Ricci, the weekend not only included a weekend of beach activities but also a informal dinner dance at Doolan’s Shore Club in Spring Lake with entertainment from Turnpike Mike and a closing dinner at Edgar’s in Manasquan.

For more information on the events that Operation Beachhead is holding this summer or how to volunteer, go to www.opbeachhead.org.

Grant awarded to Operation Beachhead ~ Awarded $120,000 in grants to NJ Heroes Organizations ~ Coast Star, April 22, 2015

By Caren Caterina

SEA GIRT — One of the borough’s own organizations was recognized for its heroic nature.

Recently, New Jersey’s first lady, Mary Pat Christie, announced over $120,000 in New Jersey Heroes grants to 18 organizations previously selected as New Jersey Heroes.

One of those organizations is Sea Girt-based Operation Beachhead, which received a $5,900 grant.

ABOUT OPERATION BEACHHEAD

Operation Beachhead, which is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci, helps to provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy for former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping all those with disabilities.

Operation Beachhead provides adaptive all-season sports activities to veterans, troops, disabled civilian individuals and their families for the purpose of rehabilitation, inspiration and recreation.

HOW THE GRANT WILL BE USED

New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,900 to Operation Beachhead for the purchase of adaptive equipment to help disabled participants take part in the program, such as beach wheelchairs for summer or mono-skis for winter activities.

The program, which has expanded vastly over the years, now benefits over 400 participants and their families.

ABOUT THE HEROES GRANT

The grants, which must be used within 12 months from the date of the award, will help the recipients to further enhance the mission of their respective organizations through new programs and services.

“I am proud our New Jersey Heroes Foundation was able to expand its grant program for 2015 to help these remarkable organizations continue to do good work in their respective communities throughout the Garden State,” said Mrs. Christie.

“Our New Jersey Heroes recipients represent such a broad coalition of causes that touch many people in so many ways,” she continued. “With these grants, we’re providing these groups with an opportunity to make an even greater difference by giving them the ability to improve and expand their programs to further reach community members in need.”

Since 2013, the New Jersey Heroes Grant program has increased from $100,000 to $120,000, and from 12 recipients to 18.

Overall, approximately $320,000 in grants has been awarded to 24 organizations over the past three years.

New Jersey Heroes is an initiative Mrs. Christie began in 2010 to showcase the positive and unique ways people and organizations are impacting New Jersey and their communities.

Winter Sports  Coming  to  a  Close  for  Operation Beachhead ~ Coast Star, March 19, 2015

Organization looking to kick off summer schedule in June

By Caren Caterina

SEA GIRT — It won’t be very much longer before members of the local organization Operation Beachhead trades in its ice hockey sleds for surfboards.

Until then, members are continuing to enjoy all that winter sports have to offer.

TAKING TO THE ICE

According to Operation Beachhead board member Jane Potoczniak, members of the Operation Beachhead sled hockey team and their families took to the ice on Thursday, March 11, at the John Piccolo Ice Arena, located in Old Bridge.

Operation Beachhead has also hosted other sled hockey events there since the new year.

“This enthusiastic group encouraged family members, even very young relatives, to join them on the ice this session. Unlike past sessions the weather was warm and comfortable,” she said.

GREETED & WELCOMED

On March 11, Ms. Potoczniak said the staff of the John Piccolo Arena greeted and welcomed Operation Beachhead volunteers,FDNY Intramural Hockey Club members,
 local police, Junior Knights coaches, and participants when they arrived.

“Even before our arrival the sleds were lined up and waiting to be used,” Ms. Potoczniak said.

Ms. Potoczniak said the chefs at the arena’s cafe, the Knight Kafe, were prepared and ready to serve warm beverages and homemade breakfast items. Lunch was also already underway, she said.

Additionally, Ms. Potoczniak said members of Operation Beachhead were, as always, “honored and pleased” to have Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry join them on the ice.

Ms. Potoczniak said a tentative date of April 1 is set for the last ice skating event of the season, before Operation Beachhead starts gearing up for its summer program scheduled to begin in June.


SUMMER EVENTS APPROVED

During last Wednesday night’s council meeting, the Sea Girt Council approved Operation Beachhead events for the summer, including on June 13 and 27, July 25 and Aug. 29. During the summertime, Operation Beachhead conducts several days spent on the Sea Girt beach, where its participants can enjoy various water-‐related activities.

Mayor Ken Farrell commended Mr. Ricci and members of Operation Beachhead for all that they do. “He [Mr. Ricci] helps wounded warriors to enjoy water sports,” Mayor Farrell said.

Mayor Farrell said it was great for Sea Girt to be the host of Operation Beachhead as “it brings them [participants] happiness and joy.”


ABOUT OPERATION BEACHHEAD

Operation Beachhead, which is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci, helps to provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-‐duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping all those with disabilities.

Operation Beachhead’s adaptive hockey team allows is members to shoot pucks using sit-‐down sleds.

The special sleds help to provide winter activities for disabled individuals who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a day on the ice.

The sleds used by Operation Beachhead were acquired through a donation from the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Foundation and Memorial Fund.

In the past, Operation Beachhead received a grant of five additional sleds from the USA Hockey Foundation.

Other winter-‐related events include marital arts and yoga.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Operation Beachhead always welcomes volunteers to help in a number of capacities, whether with the donation of equipment or their time.

For more information, reach out to Mr. Ricci at 732-‐722-‐7550, email [email protected] or visit the website www.opbeachhead.org.

Reader  Comments

Leave a comment on “Winter sports coming to a close for Operation Beachhead”

© 2015 Star News Group. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Star News Group is prohibited. Privacy Policy | Visitor Agreement

http://starnewsgroup.com/weekly/2015/03.19.15/winter_sport_03.19.15_56954.html 2/2

Large Group Enjoys Sled Hockey Event in Old Bridge ~ Coast Star, Feb 12, 2015

Held by Operation Beachhead on Feb. 4 in Old Bridge

By Caren Caterina

SEA GIRT — Members of Operation Beachhead are continuing to bring its participants plenty of fun activities to chase away the winter doldrums.

Most recently, Operation Beachhead held an ice hockey type of event where, according to organizers, the local organization experienced its largest group of sled hockey participants and volunteers yet.

The event was held on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the John Piccolo Ice Arena, located in Old Bridge.

In addition to Operation Beachhead’s regular skaters, there were also many attendees from the East Orange Veterans Hospital who joined in on the event, organizers said.

Operation Beachhead has also hosted other sled hockey events there since the new year, and members are looking forward to the next event which will be held in March.

Operation Beachhead, which is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci, helps to provide fun Shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping all those with disabilities.

Operation Beachhead’s adaptive hockey team allows is members to shoot pucks using sit-down sleds.

The special sleds help to provide winter activities for disabled individuals who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a day on the ice.

The sleds used by Operation Beachhead were acquired through a donation from the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Foundation and Memorial Fund.

In the past, Operation Beachhead received a grant of five additional sleds from The USA Hockey Foundation.

Other winter-related events include marital arts and yoga.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Mr. Ricci at 732-682-4041.

Sea Girt’s Operation Beachhead slides into New Year with Sled Hockey Event

Adaptive hockey team enjoyed day at the ice arena in Old Bridge,  By Caren Caterina – Coast Star, Jan 15, 2015

SEA GIRT — One local nonprofit organization kicked off the new year with a day on the ice.

Operation Beachhead hosted a sled hockey event — the group’s first event of 2015 — earlier this month on Jan. 7 at the John Piccolo Ice Arena, located in Old Bridge.

Operation Beachhead, which is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci, helps to provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping all those with disabilities.

According to Operation Beachhead board member Jane Potoczniak, the Operation Beachhead adaptive hockey team — whose members can shoot pucks using sit-down sleds — recently received the addition of two new members and is continuing to grow.

While the day proved to be bitterly cold, Ms. Potoczniak described the recent winter event as being “heartwarming,” as there were many people present to support the hockey players including family members, FDNY volunteers, Old Bridge Junior Knights coaches, local policemen, Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry and Operation Beachhead volunteers.

“The veterans did an excellent job,” Mr. Ricci said.

Additionally, Old Bridge Councilwoman Lucille Panos took time to welcome the group and its players.

According to Ms. Potoczniak, the councilwoman, who is the granddaughter of a World War I decorated veteran, expressed her gratitude to the veterans for their service, as well as to the volunteers for their support of the Operation Beachhead veterans.

Operation Beachhead organizers also noted that although the ice arena does not normally open until later in the afternoon to the public, the staff had greeted everyone early in the morning with warm beverages, breakfast, groomed ice and the transfer of sleds from storage.

The staff also gave generously of their time to work with Operation Beachhead volunteer George Rague to modify the sleds for the various participants, Ms. Potoczniak said.

The special sleds help to provide winter activities for disabled individuals who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a day on the ice.

The sleds used by Operation Beachhead were acquired through a donation from the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Foundation and Memorial Fund.

In the past, Operation Beachhead received a grant of five additional sleds from The USA Hockey Foundation.

Mr. Ricci said that one of the most exciting aspects of the event was the age range of participants, which included older veterans in their 70s and beyond.

The next ice hockey event will take place on Jan. 28.

Other winter-related events include marital arts and yoga.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Mr. Ricci at 732-682-4041.

Operation Beachhead’s Winter Season In Full Swing, Coast Star ~ Dec 11, 2014 by Paige Taylor


 

SEA GIRT — The local nonprofit organization Operation Beachhead recently kicked off its winter season with a sled hockey event, and is set to provide even more programs in the upcoming months.

Operation Beachhead is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci.

The organization helps provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

“From early on, I decided to open it up to everyone,” Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci also said other programs for disabled veterans are only available to those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, while his organization welcomes “any veterans, any active duty service people, as well as children and adults with special needs.”

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and he helped create a surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping those with disabilities.

“Next year we’re branching out to Wildwood,” he said. “I can do so much more, but I’m only one guy.

“I live in a dream, I live in a constant state of thankfulness,” he added.

The dream continues to be realized for Mr. Ricci and for those who participate in the programs, as the winter season brings even more activities including ice skating and skiing via sleds.

Two ice sled events have been hosted for disabled veterans from East Orange Veterans Hospital on Nov. 5, and for “new and returning faces” on Dec. 3, at the John J. Picolelo Arena in Old Bridge, according to the organization’s website, opbeachhead.org.

Operation Beachhead volunteers came to the rink to help out, Mr. Ricci said.

According to Jane Potoczniak, board member, Operation Beachhead “stormed the frozen surf” at event on Dec. 3.

“Operation Beachhead volunteers were aided by members from the New York City Police and Fire Department Intramural Hockey teams to help the disabled veterans and others on the ice,” she said.

According to Ms. Potoczniak, the sleds were modified and made more comfortable at this event as they were outfitted, for the first time, with higher back supports and push bars. These two additions to the sleds made the day more enjoyable for both the participants and the volunteers.

The sleds used by Operation Beachhead were acquired through a donation from the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Foundation and Memorial Fund.

Last year, Operation Beachhead received a grant of five additional sleds from The USA Hockey Foundation.

According to Mr. Ricci, the group is seeking an additional, large sled.

To volunteer or donate, call Mr. Ricci at 732-682-4041.

UPCOMING EVENTS/PROGRAMS

Operation Beachhead will continue to please its participants with events already scheduled for the New Year.

There are currently four ice sled hockey events on the horizon that each run from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the John Piccolo Area, Old Bridge Township, Route 516 and Cottrel Road, Old Bridge.

The events are scheduled for Jan. 7, Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and March 11.

 

Sled hockey event held at Old Bridge arena for disabled vets ~ Caren Caterina, Coast Star,  Nov 11, 2014

SEA GIRT — The local nonprofit organization Operation Beachhead recently kicked off its winter season with a sled hockey event.

Operation Beachhead is organized by founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci.

The organization helps provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and he helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping those with disabilities.

According to Mr. Ricci, an ice event was held for disabled veterans last Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the John J. Picolelo Arena in Old Bridge.

Mr. Ricci stated that the paralyzed veterans came from East Orange Veterans Hospital.

Operation Beachhead volunteers came to the rink to help out, Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci said the event served as the opening day for Operation Beachhead’s winter season.

According to Mr. Ricci, Richard Smith, a former New York City fireman, came out with members of his hockey team to volunteer while the attendees shot pucks using sit-down sleds.

These special sleds help to provide winter activities for disabled individuals who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a day on the ice.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Mr. Ricci said. “It was incredible.”

According to Operation Beachhead board member Jane Potoczniak, veterans were helped into hockey sleds, given instructions on how to use the equipment and practiced shooting pucks into the goal.

The sleds used by Operation Beachhead were acquired through a donation from the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Foundation and Memorial Fund.

Last year, Operation Beachhead received a grant of five additional sleds from The USA Hockey Foundation.

This is Operation Beachhead’s second season using the township’s facilities.

Members of Operation Beachhead have expressed appreciation to Old Bridge Township and its mayor, Owen Henry, for being supportive of their organization.

The organization also has many other exciting winter events planned, including marital arts and yoga.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Michael Ricci at 732-682-4041.

 

 

Operation Beachhead Purchases Beach Chairs Thanks to Donations ~ Coast Star, Oct 9, 2014

Beach chairs also to be used by the Borough of Sea Girt

By Caren Caterina

SEA GIRT — The local organization Operation Beachhead is continuing its mission by offering veterans, troops, disabled individuals and their families adaptive recreational, sports and social activities.

The most recent addition to Operation Beachhead’s fleet of equipment is three beach wheelchairs, which were purchased by Operation Beachhead thanks to the generous monetary donations to the organization.

Each chair costs roughly $1,200.

ABOUT OPERATION BEACHHEAD

According to Operation Beachhead founder and Wall resident Michael Ricci, the organization helps to provide fun shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities.

Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Ricci is a veteran of the Vietnam War and he helped create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has expanded to include helping those with disabilities.

BEACH CHAIR DONATIONS

Mr. Ricci explained that the beach wheelchairs are beneficial to those who need them, such as the disabled, to get over the sandy terrain at the beach.

Mr. Ricci said the Borough of Sea Girt has similar beach wheelchairs that Operation Beachhead has been borrowing during the organization’s beach-related events, many which are held in Sea Girt in the summertime.

“And that was a problem, because they [Sea Girt] needed them,” Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci said Operation Beachhead received enough donations to purchase three of those beach wheelchairs.

During the times Operation Beachhead is not utilizing the chairs, Sea Girt can use them, Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci extended his gratitude to Sea Girt for allowing Operation Beachhead to use the borough’s chairs.

Those who need the chairs, such as paralyzed veterans, are wheeled from the road to the beach during events. Then, they can comfortably stay in the chairs until they are ready to try an activity at the beach, Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci said he is very pleased with the success of Operation Beachhead, which is in part due to the support of many including volunteers and those who donate to the group.

“We have grown so much,” he said.

Borough officials also recently expressed their appreciation of Operation Beachhead, and their gratitude to Mr. Ricci for allowing the borough to also make use of the beach wheelchairs.

Timothy Harmon, who serves as Sea Girt’s chief of lifeguard operations, explained that when Operation Beachhead conducted events on the weekends on Sea Girt’s beaches, it would use Sea Girt’s wheelchairs and often leave the rest of the beach with a deficiency.

“So, they [Operation Beachhead] brainstormed to raise money toward the new chairs,” Mr. Harmon said. “The program raised enough to get three chairs that they will specifically use during the week. When Operation Beachhead is not using them, the town of Sea Girt will have access to extra chairs.”

Mayor Ken Farrell also thanked Mr. Ricci and the whole Operation Beachhead team for their generous donation.

“Their main goal is to make sure everyone can get onto the beach and we thank him [Mr. Ricci] tremendously,” Mayor Farrell said.

SUCCESSFUL SUMMER & MORE

According to Mr. Ricci, the 2014 summer season for Operation Beachhead was “wonderful.”

“The past season was the most successful and exciting summer yet,” Mr. Ricci said.

The organization experienced the highest number of participants, volunteers, donations and awards, Mr. Ricci said.

“At every event on the Sea Girt beach in New Jersey, we welcomed veterans, disabled veterans, active duty troops, along with children and adults with special needs,” Mr. Ricci said. “These participants were able to experience various water sports and activities with the help of the Operation Beachhead team of volunteers. How exciting for us all.”

According to Mr. Ricci, Operation Beachhead is beginning its third year of fall, winter and spring events.

Ice sled, skating and hockey events are already planned for the year with the first session scheduled for Nov. 5, which will be held at the Old Bridge Township John Piccolo Arena.

Yoga, martial arts and skiing sessions for challenged individuals are presently in the planning stages, Mr. Ricci said.

“Our team of instructors and volunteers, along with the participants, are all looking forward to the upcoming sessions of adventure, inspiration and therapeutic activities,” Mr. Ricci said.

Mr. Ricci said Operation Beachhead is already looking forward to next summer, which will include an expansion in the organization’s activities.

For example, Operation Beachhead is planning a beach day for 2015 in Wildwood.

“All of this could not be possible without the support of all our wonderful volunteers and key personnel, none of whom are paid for their dedication and service. All donations go towards the needs of the participants and creating adventures for them,” Mr. Ricci said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on Operation Beachhead, or to contact the organization regarding volunteering, participation or donations, call Mr. Ricci at 732-682-4041, email [email protected] or visit www.opbeachhead.org.

The Beginnings of Operation Beachhead:
Coast Star ~ April 21, 2011

Wall Veteran Working To Bring Surf Clinic For Other Vets To Area

“I consider it an incredible honor to be with these young and old veterans. It’s amazing, what they do.” — Michael Ricci, Wall resident, on working with disabled veterans

By Jamie Biesiada

Wall’s Michael Ricci is passionate about volunteering with veterans.

He recently returned from the 25th Annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Aspen, Colo.

Mr. Ricci was a Marine, sent to Vietnam in the late 1960s when he was 22, just after he graduated his basic training course. He was sent to a battalion outpost “in the middle of nowhere,” he said, where he and his troops would patrol the jungles and rice paddies day and night.  He was eventually injured, and sent home.

Next month, Mr. Ricci said, many of his platoon members will come to Wall for a reunion.

For 14 years, Mr. Ricci has been attending the Winter Sports Clinic, where veterans young and old are able to enjoy adaptive alpine and Nordic skiing.

“I consider it an incredible honor to be with these young and old veterans,” he said. “It’s amazing, what they do.”

The clinic is sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans.

Mr. Ricci said many veterans receive sponsorships to attend the event, which is open to U.S. military veterans with qualifying disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations and other disabilities.

Hundreds of veterans attend the five-day clinic each year, and certified ski instructors and volunteers help the clinic run smoothly.

This year, Mr. Ricci estimated between 300 and 350 veterans participated, and there were more than 1,000 volunteers on hand. With the aid of adaptive ski equipment, veterans of all abilities are able to hit the slopes.

Next up for Mr. Ricci will be the Fourth National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego, Calif. The clinic will run from Sept. 18 to 23, and applications are due by June 1 for returning participants or June 15 for new participants.

Mr. Ricci is a local liaison for interested veterans in the area.

The Summer Sports Clinic will include cycling, kayaking, surfing, sailing and track and field events, Mr. Ricci said, and is open to veterans injured within the past seven years.

Much like the Winter Sports Clinic, certified instructors will be on hand at the event.

Volunteers are still being accepted for the clinic — many volunteer opportunities are available, Mr. Ricci said.

He urged any veterans, or volunteers, interested in taking part in the clinic to contact him at 732-722-7550 or 732-682-4041.

Mr. Ricci also researched Operation Surf: Pismo Beach, Calif., which sponsors an annual surf clinic for wounded soldiers.

Wounded veterans first receive training on land, then hit the waves with instructors.

Considering the rich surfing history of the area — and the professional surfers that live on the Jersey Shore — Mr. Ricci is hoping to begin a similar clinic for disabled veterans in New Jersey.

Each year, he said, professional surfers abound at the Belmar Pro. Mr. Ricci has had paintings in the Belmar Arts Council show that annually runs in conjunction with the Belmar Pro.

A surfing clinic for disabled veterans would be a good addition to the area, Mr. Ricci said. He is hoping to get locals involved to create such a program, which could include things like surfing, kayaking and more.

Anyone interested in aiding Mr. Ricci’s efforts to bring a clinic to the area is urged to contact him.

For more information about the Winter Sports Clinic, visit www.wintersportsclinic.va.gov. Visit www.va.gov for more information about the Summer Sports Clinic. Operation Surf can be found online atwww.operationsurf.com.

 

Operation Beachhead Receives Donation from High Tech HS, North Bergen, NJ

North Bergen - June 10, 2014

The National Honor Society (NHS) of High Tech has donated $1,450 from fundraising on behalf of Operation Beachhead to honor the the late Dan Beecher, a veteran and friendly face of the Hudson County Schools of Technology maintenance department, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech.


Beecher, a humble Vietnam veteran who received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, died suddenly of cardiac arrest on April 6th of this year.  


"The dedication that Dan exhibited for his country was evidenced every day in his dedication to our school," says Joan Marie Bellotti, moderator of NHS and Department Liaison for the High Tech Language Arts Department, who reminded staff and students of the recent 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, on June 6th.  


High Tech NHS presented a check to Michael Ricci, Founder and President of Operation Beachhead, and Board member Joseph Potoczniak.


Operation Beachhead started as a way to provide adventurous beach activities, such as surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, and paddle boarding to disable veterans before it expanded to include active duty troops, too.  Entirely supported by donations and managed by volunteers, Operation Beachhead has expanded its programs and services by offering year-round opportunities to 225 participants. Its volunteer base had has grown tremendously, now having a group of over 200 people.

The statement above was taken from the school's on-line newsletter. June 16, 2014 http://www.hcstonline.org/portal/Information/News/tabid/98/EntryId/504/High-Tech-NHS-Holds-Fundraiser-for-Operation-Beachhead-in-Memory-of-Dan-Beecher.aspx

Operation Beachhead Received Grant for Five Hockey Sleds

Click to read the article about Michael Ricci in the Sentinel

Coast Star ~ Feb 6, 2014

Truth Atlas is an on-line site that shares stories of people who are making a difference. Click here to read their January story featuring Michael Ricci, President and Founder of Operation Beachhead
 
New Jersey Hero Awards Gala

First Lady, Mary Pat Christie, celebrated this year's recipients of the NJ Hero Award at a Gala on November 13, 2013.  Operation Beachhead founder, Michael Ricci,  had been chosen as the July Hero of Month. During the evening Mrs. Christie spoke about her organization, she highlighted several organizations, and she detailed the day she spent with Operation Beachhead in Sea Girt.

 The Gala afforded the opportunity to present the mission of Operation Beachhead and to network with the other recipients


To see the day First Lady, Mary Pat Christie, spent on the beach, click here.


 

  

Donations Received from Borab Landscaping & The Whelan Foundation

Rachael Ray Show

Operation Beachhead was recently recognized on the Rachael Ray "Thanks for Giving" Show. Audience members were surprised with what was called the biggest giveaway show of the year.

Operation Beachhead provides adaptive recreation to veterans at Old Bridge ice arena Follow the story in My New Jersey


Shayne Boyle of Sea Girt ~ Coast Star, Dec 19, 2013 

Shayne Boyle, of Sea Girt, an accomplished professional surfer, volunteers as a surf instructor with the local nonprofit, Operation Beachhead. Photo courtesy OPERATION BEACHHEAD

Shayne Boyle of Sea Girt

By Caren Caterina

On Sept. 11, 2001, Shayne Boyle, 47, of Sea Girt, was enjoying a morning surf session in Spring Lake before heading into the city for work.

“I need to go out,”Mr. Boyle said, no matter what the weather or how big the waves.


A ‘SOUL SURFER’

Surfing, he said, saved his life that day.

He had survived the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, while working as an interdealer broker on the 105th floor in the Cantor Fitzgerald office and described how the building shook, as if a “shockwave went through the building.”

On 9/11, Mr. Boyle, who was then working for Highland Asset Management in Hanover Square, recalled the moment when he arrived in New York City following his surf session. He could not believe what he saw.

“When I got to Liberty State Park, I was on the phone with my brother,” Mr. Boyle said, on 9/11. “I saw the flames and knew my friends [at Cantor Fitzgerald] were not going to make it.”

“It didn’t seem real that could happen,” Mr. Boyle said. “That is where you go to work — that’s safety there.”

Mr. Boyle said his life forever had changed: he left his job on Wall Street following 9/11.

“For whatever reason in my life, I was supposed to lose it all, to realize what I had,” Mr. Boyle said. “The world still turns, and you have to keep fighting for survival.”

The son of Sea Girt residents Florence and Bruce Boyle, Mr. Boyle is the brother of several grown siblings including Pat, Darian, Bruce Jr. and Michaela.

Mr. Boyle, who also grew up in Montclair, attended Carrabassett Valley Academy, a private alpine skiing, snowboard and freestyle academy based in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, at the base of Sugarloaf.

“It was just incredible,” Mr. Boyle said.

Mr. Boyle, who said he wanted to be a lawyer, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont, in Burlington, where he studied political science.

Mr. Boyle got his first surfboard when he was 11.

“I used to ride my dad’s back when he would surf,” Mr. Boyle said. “I would just cling on.”

Mr. Boyle, who is a practicing, Irish-Catholic, said surfing takes him “closer to God.”

“I believe when you are caught inside the breaking waves, and there are giant waves about to bring you to the depths of the ocean, you don’t cry for help from Buddha — you cry to God,” Mr. Boyle said.

GIVING BACK TO HIS COMMUNITY

Mr. Boyle also uses his passion of surfing to give back to others. One area he serves in is as a volunteer with Operation Beachhead, a nonprofit organization in Sea Girt.

Operation Beachhead provides fun, adventurous Shore activities for disabled veterans, active-duty troops and individuals with disabilities. Such activities, including surfing and boogie boarding, are provided under the guidance of trained instructors.

Mr. Boyle said in his volunteer work, he has noticed that the ocean waves bring to children a therapeutic connection.

“There is something in the brines,” Mr. Boyle said.

Mike Ricci, a Wall resident and founder of the Sea Girt-based Operation Beachhead, is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He helped to create the surf clinic initially as a new type of therapy to former servicemen and women. His vision has since expanded to include people with disabilities, including autistic children.

Mr. Ricci said Mr. Boyle had contacted him to help volunteer.

“He has been with me since day one,” Mr. Ricci said. “He is a vice president and a board member of Operation Beachhead,” as well as a head surf instructor and paddle boarder.

“He is my right hand man and my left hand man,” Mr. Ricci said. “He does not get paid. He never gets the recognition he deserves, and he just goes above and beyond.”

Mr. Ricci said one day he had seen Mr. Boyle paddle boarding in Sea Girt.

“I am parking the car in the dead of winter, and I am looking at the water in Sea Girt. I see a guy on a paddle board — a man with a cowboy hat, a long trench coat on over his wet suit, and he doesn’t fall. He is riding the waves in and he is not falling. I said, ‘This guy is in incredible,” Mr. Ricci said.

“He has been surfing since he has come out of the cradle, and he has an uncanny sense of the movement of the water,” Mr. Ricci said. “He was a professional surfer and has won tons of awards.”

“Everyone respects him, everyone knows who Shayne Boyle is,” Mr. Ricci continued. “He is a skilled painter, and he is one of the best surfers in the area.”

Mr. Boyle also has enjoyed modeling, including for Faherty Brand, a well-known beach-based clothing brand created by twin brothers Alex and Mike Faherty, who grew up in Spring Lake.

TALENTED ON THE WAVES AND CANVAS

Mr. Boyle is also a talented artist.

Many of Mr. Boyle’s paintings revolve around ocean scenes. Some show the World Trade Center in the background.

“All my paintings have a wave somewhere,” Mr. Boyle said.

He has also dabbled in encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, where Mr. Boyle uses the colored wax as a medium, and uses various heating methods to create his art work.

Mr. Boyle said he was not meant to be a professional surfer, but looks at himself as more of a “soul surfer.”

In addition to enjoying all that the local Jersey Shore has to offer, Mr. Boyle also enjoys spending time in Montauk, N.Y. and Bali.

Mr. Boyle said he hopes for the opportunity to travel to Ireland to surf Donegal Bay, as the winter storms offer a personal challenge to any seasoned surfer.

A BROTHER WITH A BIG HEART

Mr. Boyle’s younger sister, Darian, also of Sea Girt, who is an extreme athlete herself, said the entire Boyle clan is athletic. All the children, she said, learned to surf and familiarize themselves with the water at a young age.

“It is in our blood,” Ms. Boyle said. “We have a passion for focusing on the sport and giving it all to be the best you can be.”

“Since we were born, we have been lucky to have parents who gave you opportunities to be in the water,” Ms. Boyle added.

Ms. Boyle commended her brother, stating he has been successful through the years at any sport.

“He has natural grace and talent,” Ms. Boyle said.” He has had that in his genes since he has been little.”

“When you watch him, he is so fluid,” Ms. Boyle said, while surfing. “Our friends are some of the best surfers in the world, but he has just a passion and grace and style.”

Ms. Boyle said she is proud of her brother’s involvement with Operation Beachhead. Their other brother, Bruce, is also active with that organization as well, she said.

“It is a gift, giving them [participants] a memory of a lifetime in the water, “ she said.

Ms. Boyle said her brother has such a warm heart, is a good friend and family guy, as he loves spending time with his son, Dylan, 11, and daughter, Quinn, 9.

“Shayne — he gives it all. When he paints, he is all in. When he surfs he is all in. When he is with his family he is all in,” she said. “He has a big heart.”

Ms. Boyle said it was very difficult for her brother after 9/11.

“For him it was hard,” she said. “He lost many friends as did many people. It hit him so hard. You almost lost the old Shayne.”

“For any tragedy, you have to overcome, and thank God you are alive, and take every day as a gift, and Shayne has done that,” Ms. Boyle continued. “He took the experience from 9/11, and did not go back to Wall Street.”

“He is embracing life, art, and traveling and that is what makes him happy,” she said.

“We are so lucky that it didn’t take Shayne,” Ms. Boyle said. “He is my best friend, and I have looked up to him my whole life. He is such a special person. We are so lucky to have Shayne with us.”


Coast Star

 

Operation beachhead and the High fives foundation get together for day of water sports

Operation Beachhead is featured in the High Fives Foundation weekly newsletter and on their website. The High Fives is a non-profit foundation based in Truckee, CA founded by Roy Tuscany. The Tahoe based organization is dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes that have suffered a life altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community. Click here to read the article and view the photos of a beach day in Sea Girt in which Operation Beachhead aided the athletes in summer water sports.

Articles appearing in local magazines

Coast Star ~ June 6, 2013

Coast Star ~ May 2, 2013

coast Star ~ March 21, 2013

Coast star - June 28, 2012

coast star - september 22, 2011

Coast star - august 25, 2011

Coast star - August 2011

star ledger - august 8, 2011