Bethany lifeguard scholarship race to start at former Harris Teeter


In its eighth year, the Ed Dean Memorial Scholarship 4-Mile Race and 1-Mile Walk will be held closer to Bethany and the lifeguards it supports, on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 8 a.m.

Thanks to former lifeguard, current business owner and state Sen. Gerald Hocker, the event will start and finish in the parking lot of the former Harris Teeter at the corner of Cedar Neck Road and Fred Hudson Road, which the Hocker family announced early this year that it is purchasing.

Named in honor of former educator and Bethany Beach Patrol Capt. Ed Dean, the scholarship is awarded to a current lifeguard on the Bethany Beach Patrol.

“Without Mr. Hocker, the event would have been a wash this year. We rely on this race to raise the funds to provide the $5,000 scholarship,” his son and beach patrol alumni Jud Dean explained. “We started at $2,500 and would love to keep building the scholarship amount up every few years. Mr. Hocker’s generosity will allow us to keep funds going into our account so that we can be as generous as possible with our scholarship.”

The sentiment was echoed by Dana Schaefer of the Bethany Beach Patrol.

“We are grateful to Sen. Hocker for his support of the Bethany Beach Patrol Alumni and the Ed Dean Memorial Scholarship,” said Schaefer, a board member of the Ed Dean Memorial Scholarship Inc. “As his website says, he really ‘has always strived to help his community in any way possible.’”

The race has grown every summer, and last year a one-mile walk was added, to include more participants.

The Seashore Striders operate the race and walk. The out-and-back 4-mile course will start at the former Harris Teeter parking lot, continue along the path adjacent to Fred Hudson Road, then cross into Fresh Pond State Park, opposite the Salt Pond Community entrance, where it will join part of the course from previous years. The one-mile walk will occur on the path along Fred Hudson Road.

Executive Director Ron Phillips explained the desire to create a four-mile trial run, as well as a fun walk. He said the Ed Dean Memorial Scholarship board “wanted to do something original and take away the desire for personal records so everyone could just have fun.” Thus, an unusual distance and off-road course were chosen nearly a decade ago.

“The legacy of Ed Dean’s philosophy of individuals not seeking personal glory but rather achieving goals of excellence through camaraderie is evident in this unique event.”

“Ed Dean was a very influential captain on the Bethany Beach Patrol,” organizers said. “Many alumni attest to how his strict standards of high expectations at all times changed the nature of the patrol’s culture to be perhaps the most rigorous and intense of those in neighboring beach towns. Today, current Bethany Beach lifeguards still train diligently and work vigilantly to maintain a record of zero drowning fatalities during lifeguard hours.”

Other alumni credited Ed Dean for their personal growth and integrity. Phillips recalled, “He was my best and closest friend. He stood behind me and loved me when no one else did other than my mom. I just want people to remember him.”

Phillips, an attorney in Georgetown and part-time lifeguard for the Bethany Beach Patrol, said he believes Bethany lifeguards would not strive for excellence every year if Ed Dean were not hired in 1982.

While captain, until 1991, Ed Dean not only fostered a patrol and its members, he fathered a family. Jud Dean recalled, “My first memories of my father are of him in Birdwells, running the Bethany Beach Patrol.” With the exception of one summer, the guards in Bethany still wear Birdwell Beach Britches as part of their uniform.

“So the pride I feel in being able to provide a guard with money for school is hard to put into words without getting emotional. I think my father would be very honored that he is still a part of the BBP,” Dean said.

Alumni, friends, and family of Ed Dean are coming together this Saturday to share his legacy with members of the community who want to join the current guards on the Bethany Beach Patrol, running 4 miles or walking 1 mile, starting at 8 a.m.

Participants can register for $20 in advance or $25 on the day of the race at www.seashorestriders.com.

The Ed Dean Memorial Scholarship Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All donations are considered charitable contributions for tax purposes. Anyone who wishes to make a donation may do so Saturday or by mail to P.O. Box 561, Georgetown, DE 19947.