As many in the area know, the annual remembrance race is not just an opportunity to win a prize or get in shape, it has an entirely higher meaning. Lt. Mark H. Dooley was a member of the Vermont National Guard as well as the Wilmington Police Department, when he was called to active duty in 2004. While leading a patrol in Ar-Ramadi, Iraq, Dooley was killed in action by an improvised explosive device that struck the armored vehicle he was riding in.
Each year, Greg Murano, of Concord, NH, organizes the event to raise money, and provide a fitting, community-based tribute for his hero friend. “This is our way of letting his legacy continue because he touched everyone positively in his life and I’m sure he would have continued to have a positive impact on Wilmington,” said Murano. “I think it’s a great healthy activity, and we really pull out the best of the community. It’s a nice positive day to reflect on Mark’s memory, and everyone who has served and is serving.”
Murano would also like to use this year’s remembrance race as a forum for the community to get involved in building a local memorial honoring Dooley.
Proceeds collected from registrations will go to the Mark Dooley Memorial Fund, and donated to a number of organizations including the Twin Valley High School athletics department. the Brattleboro Yellow Ribbon Group will also receive a donation for their work sending support and supplies to Vermont men and women serving in the military.
The Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter, a motorcycle group that supports US veterans and their families will also be in town and receive a portion of the proceeds. Murano says these specific charities keep Dooley’s legacy close to home, proving Dooley can still make an impact on the community just as he did during his life.
This year the race begins at Twin Valley High School, following Beaver Street north, then left on East Main Street. The route continues with another left onto South Main Street, and continues along Castle Hill Road until Fairview Avenue. Once there, participants will travel 1.05 miles out on Fairview Avenue, complete a U-turn, and head back on the same route. The route comes full circle with a right turn off South Main Street onto Beaver Street and back to Twin Valley High School.
At the conclusion of the race, a raffle will be held to raise money for the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, an organization that assists Guard members and their families during financial emergencies. This year a total of 44 businesses has donated raffle items, including everything from a Green Mountain Harley-Davidson motorcycle rental to Mount Snow ski passes.
Raffle organizer Janet Murano says that with the help of National Guard members and the Windham County Sheriff’s Department, nearly 1,500 tickets have already been sold for the raffle, with a goal of 1,000 more. In years past the raffle has raised over $2,000.
Registration for those over 19 is $25, while those under 18 can register for $20. Every participant is provided a free breakfast, as well as a free T-shirt. Awards will be handed out for all walk and run age groups as well as best overall, first, second, and third place.
Miss Vermont will be on hand to sing the national anthem, along with live music by local band Welkin Again.
For more information on how to register, donate, or volunteer visit Markdooley5k.com.