Community comes together to surpass fundraising goal

These Lawrence High School students, in Fairfield, were helpers during the fundraiser road race, with proceeds going to law enforcement scholarships. (Photos by Mark Huard, Central Maine Photography)

by Mark Huard

On August 19, more than 1,000 runners and walkers came together for a half marathon and a 5K in honor of Corporal Eugene Cole. Just four months ago Cpl. Cole was slain in his line of duty as a Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy. Following a four-day massive manhunt, his alleged killer was located, thanks to the efforts of the entire state and even some out of state law enforcement officers. In a situation that could tax an agency, and even a profession, to its limits, the community came together and said “We will.” There was an energy and cohesiveness in the community that hasn’t been felt by the masses in a long time. The family and the community sent the message that for Cpl. Cole, “we will rise up and show our strength.”

Race organizer Jessica Gleason, left, with Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster.

Just weeks after the corporal was murdered, six community members began organizing this 5K to raise money in Eugene Cole’s name. Over 1,000 people attended for what was regarded as a worthy cause. Jessica Gleason was one of the main organizers of the event, and she reports that enough money was raised to put several recruits through the academy as well as start a scholarship fund that will sustain itself. Those involved attribute the upwards of $45,000 earnings to the fact that this tragedy touched everyone in all economic statuses, all professions and all circumstances.

The runners consisted of law enforcement agencies, local businesses, professionals and community members that were all sending a consistent message once again, which was we will rise up in the face of this tragedy and do what is right and necessary. The community was greeted at the starting line by Cpl. Cole’s wife, Sheryl Cole, and their efforts were duly noted and recognized by her. This community has really set an example for the nation with their efforts to band together in the face of tragedy for Cpl. Cole and the thin blue line to proudly announce “we will.”


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