They came in droves to Hartshorn Elementary School, some to walk and other to ride bicycles for one, five, 10 or 20 miles.
What united all these strangers was Jake Silverman, a Short Hills teen, and the hope of finding a cure for Dystonia, a rare neurological muscle disorder.
More than 900 people participated and volunteered for the fourth annual Jake's Ride on Sunday.
The fundraiser supports The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinsons Foundation of New York City, which provides research grants for the two movement disorders.
Dystonia causes uncontrolable and even painful muscle contractions. It affects an estimated 500,000 adults and children in North America. While there are some treatments available, such as medications, surgery and botox injections, and there is no known cure.
Spirits ran high during the cycling and walking event, which also featured live music and snacks. Jake, 15, was among the hundreds of five-mile bike riders.
Jake's mother, Nancy Silverman, said the most amazing part of the event is seeing the large amount of community support.
She called the ride a "total grassroots effort," and she noted that most of the funds were raised through small $5 and $10 donations and the local children even chip in by selling bracelets and lemonade.
The latest ride has raised $260,000 based on an early tally, and the event has culiminatively generated $960,000 for research, said Beth Pfeil, the foundation's special events manager. The organization hopes to break the $1 million mark.
Jake said he's been inspired and left speechless by the outpouring of public support for his relatively unknown disease.
"Everyone says Short Hills is full of snobs, but everyone is here, biking and donating," Jake said. "Every year it's getting bigger and better."
Other people with Dystonia also participated in Jake's Ride to spread awareness about the disorder.
Dillon Dean Frazier, 16, of Old Lyme, Conn., used a scooter to join in on the one-mile walk.
Dillon, who has the disorder for 13 years, said he was happy to be at his first event and he was pleased that everyone was learning more about Dystonia and how tough it can be at times for him and Jake to get around.
"It's just so breathtaking," Dillon said about the ride turnout. His father, Harland Frazier, thanked everyone for their support.
Ed Gewirtz, of Woodmere, New York, volunteered to serve snacks while his family joined in on the walk. His family's team included his wife, Donna, daugher, Randi, niece and nephew Erica and Chris Competallo, and their children, Riley and Charlotte.
Gewirtz, a retired attorney, said he's struggled with the disorder since the 1970s. He volunteers at the foundation's office once a week and he and his family has been participating in Jake's Run for three years.
The best part about the ride, Gewirtz said, was "seeing the people, seeing the enthusiasm" and the amount of money being raised for Dystonia research.