Participants from across the state will rally for designated drivingFor some, it’s an annual tradition; for others, a chilling new experience. Either way, everyone involved can agree that the HERO Campaign Pledge & Plunge in Ocean City on New Year’s Day is one of the most exhilarating ways to support safe and sober designated driving.Splashing their way into the New Year, more than 1,000 participants are expected to take the HERO Pledge and rush into the Ocean City surf at the Music Pier on Sunday, January 1st. In years past, the event has drawn both locals and supporters from across the state of New Jersey and from every age group, many in costumes or sporting festive hats. Last year’s dip included at least one pair of newlyweds: Lindsay and Mike Feeley of Morris Plains, who tied the knot just after midnight hours earlier.A majority generally brave the water up to their knees and make a hasty exit, but each year a few hardy souls are determined to take a literal plunge, getting drenched from head to toe and emerging with wild shouts and big grins.The plunge is paired with a pledge to the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing drunk driving by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers. Plungers are asked to take the HERO Pledge to be a designated driver for friends and family whenever alcohol is served, and those who donate $25 to the campaign will receive a commemorative long-sleeved T-shirt.“Designated drivers are the real life of the party,” said Bill Elliott, founder of the HERO Campaign. “Every life lost to drunk driving is fully preventable. Using a designated driver should be as automatic as using a seat belt.”To register, donate or learn more, visit HEROCampaign.org.About the HERO Campaign:The HERO Campaign was established by the family of Navy Ensign John Elliott of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, who was killed in a July 2000 collision with a drunken driver two months after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. The Campaign is now saving lives in seven states in partnership with law enforcement; schools and colleges; federal and state highway safety organizations; the licensed beverage industry; professional sports teams including the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Football Giants, and the New England Patriots; Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby; and Keeneland Race Course, home of the 2015 Breeder’s Cup. Since its inception in 2000, the HERO Campaign has grown into a major grassroots movement to prevent impaired driving that has received national recognition and awards. It has also helped to reduce alcohol-related fatalities and incidents, including a 35 percent reduction in DUI fatalities in New Jersey and other states over the past decade. For more information visit HEROcampaign.org or call 609-626-3880.