Video: Sand Sculpture Draws Attention to Weekend Walk for the Wounded


OCEAN CITY, N.J. – Instead of a horn blasting or a waving flag, the start and finish of Ocean City’s 8th Walk for the Wounded is being marked by a sand sculpture.
The annual fundraiser supports "Operation First Response," an organization which brings both financial and emotional support to wounded soldiers returning from overseas.
“They give them plane tickets for family members so they can go see them overseas, they make sure their medical treatment is there, they pay their bills, their rent, anything that while they can’t work and their family can’t work, get them back on their feet,” said Tricia Ciliberto, first vice-president of Ocean City Home Bank.
However, to bring something a little special to this year’s walk and to help raise awareness for their cause, the organizers at Ocean City Home Bank decided to hire John Gowdy, a Jersey-raised expert sand sculpture, to build a visual masterpiece.
“Sand has to be wet in order to make a sand sculpture, you know, everyone wants to know the tricks, and there really isn’t, it’s just back to a kid filling a bucket and turning it over, it’s the same thing, I just use bigger buckets,” said Gowdy.
Gowdy has been working for three days on his creation, which will also include a purple heart, to help visitors remember veterans who have suffered combat injuries. His sculpture is located next to the busy Music Pier, where Saturday’s walk will start and finish.
“I love talking to the people, but I have to work too, so it’s a balancing act for me,” said Gowdy.
Although he has a sign that says ‘Do Not Disturb the Artist,” John Gowdy tells me that he has been frequently talking to his audience – especially the veterans who see a different meaning in his sculpture beyond the sand.
“One veteran was from the second world war...” said Gowdy. “I really love talking to the veterans in the crowd, you know… it hits them in the heart.”
A special ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, with soldiers who have benefited from Operation First Response. The walk is free to join in, but those who raise money can earn rewards. And at the end of the day, Ciliberto says 97% of the organization's earnings will go directly to our soldiers.