by Dan Zaffuto
SORBA Jax recently received a generous donation of $2,500 from Lula Esposito to enhance off-road bicycling in Jacksonville, Florida, specifically at Hanna Park. The donation came from the Jeff Esposito Memorial Fund. Jeff and Lula were married before a tragic bicycle accident took Jeff’s life. He was riding his bike home on the evening of September 29, 2005 when he was struck by an automobile.
Jeff started mountain biking when a friend took him riding in 2000. He was instantly hooked, and began recruiting his friends from work to ride with him. He quickly became an avid rider and started entering regional races. Jeff rode at Hanna Park almost every night after work. His love for Hanna Park inspired him to become active in the preservation of the trails at Hanna Park, and working on the trails there quickly became one of his passions. Upon Jeff’s passing, Lula began to try to think of ways to honor his dedication to the sport of mountain biking. That is when she decided to establish a fund that could be used to enhance the mountain biking experience at Hanna Park.
Friends and family began to contribute to the fund, and their donations enabled Lula to lead a group to design, build, and install new signs on the North Side Trail at Hanna Park. Thus the E-Line loop was carved out of the North Side Trails to honor Jeff. Six years later, the E-Line is the most popular loop to ride on the North Side Trails. Lula received major support from Jeff’s friends, including Pete Johnson, Harry Cordoza, Bucky Walz, Robert Dyer, and Shawn Creighton, along with several others who knew Jeff and shared his passion.
Since those signs were installed Lula explained that she has not been sure how to best use the remaining funds. After learning that resident mountain bikers in Jacksonville had started a local chapter or the International Mountain Biking Association and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, she surprised the chapter at a recent monthly board meeting by showing up and presenting a check for $2,500!
SORBA Jax was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude by this substantial donation from Lula Esposito. They currently are deciding how best to use the generous donation. Potential projects for 2012 include: installing signs on the South Side and Z Trails at Hanna Park; erosion mitigation project on all trails at Hanna Park; and the blazing of a connector loop for the Z Trail.