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Another story from the June edition of the LCS Magazine. Kidsmarathon, 2017. Held at Torrington High School on June 4. Subscribe now to get these great stories!
It was a stunning morning when I pulled up to Torrington High School at about 5:45 to start setting up for the 2017 Rod Dixon’s Kidsmarathon, which was being held at the Robert H. Frost Sports Complex.
After days of off and on rain, the sun was coming up and it looked like we might be in for a good day. Being it was the first year I had run the event and that it was the biggest event I had ever undertaken, I wanted to make sure we got off to a good start before the children from 13 area grammar schools arrived to complete their Final Mile.
This event, one created by the amazing former Olympian in an attempt to end the spread of childhood obesity in this world, was started in this area in 2007. It spent the first eight years at the Plum Hill complex in Litchfield before moving to Torrington a year ago.
The mission is a magnificent one considering the staggering numbers confronting us with nearly 30 percent of all children under the age of 12 already feeling the effects of being obese.
Running a smooth and efficient Kidsmarathon was our mission from the first day I got on-board as the coordinator of the event late last June. In order to do that, I needed top-notch volunteers the day of the event. And, to a person, no one disappointed.
As he usually is for any activity we run at LCS, our good friend and Raider through and through, Michael Ciesco was first on location at about 6:20 a.m. Ciesco is one of the guys that you can count on if it has anything to do with the school and town that he loves. And, per usual, he got right to work helping with the set up.
Other key volunteers were quickly on scene as Jamie Scott (a huge supporter of all things LCS), her husband Rich and son Richie were on site soon after Ciesco and began taking the 12-foot table out to the fields where the schools would gather their students before getting the festivities going.
Leslie Polito from the Torrington Area Health District was on the grounds early, as were former Raiders Chris DeBerry, Kat Zagrodnik, Alyssa Otis and WAPJ host Patrick Higgins.
Donna Labbe from the Torrington Early Childhood Collaborative has been a tremendous partner throughout the endless hours spent planning and coordinating all the moving parts of running an event like this and worked side by side with Polito to smooth out any wrinkles that came up.
Bob Killackey, the guy who helped me plan the logistics of the day months earlier, was my eyes and ears as we went through learning by doing as we watched over as the track and field started to take shape for the event. You won’t find many better than Killackey and I was very fortunate to have him with me during the planning and on game day.
It’s not a real party without a great photographer. And with Bob’s bride, Marianne, on hand we were more than covered in that department.
By eight o’clock, we were just about done getting set for the nine o’clock arrival of the students from the Litchfield County Area. Dixon pitched his Kidsmarathon tent on the 50-yard line of the football field. And, soon after, we were talking with the 30-something volunteers about what was going to happen once the kids got there.
Some special thanks must go out to my friend and Oliver Wolcott Technical School Athletic Director Ray Tanguay, who not only brought a dynamite sound system to the school from Tech but also 20 wonderful volunteers who were right there whenever I needed them.
No event would be complete without the Gaffney family being represented. And my daughter, Kim, and wife, Deb, were the backbone that they always are when I need them. Kim was there to make sure I remembered to hydrate on a warm Sunday morning, while Mrs. Gaffney stepped in with Kim to organize one of the schools until their representative arrived on scene.
One of the brightest and most dynamic guys to ever grab a hold of a microphone, Frankie Graziano, had agreed to be our announcer for the day. And, as always, this talented young man did not disappoint. His boundless energy, a skill that has taken him up the ranks, first at CPTV Sports and now with WNPR, helped raise the energy level to an amazing high.
The kids started to arrive in force around 8:45-9:00 and we quickly rose to about 300 participants in a big hurry.
Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone and Torrington State Representative Michelle Cook helped honor the day, as did Brian Mattiello from Charlette Hungerford Hospital, a major sponsor of the event.
By 9:30, we were ready to go with the Parade of Champions followed by the Final Mile. We added a new twist to the Olympic style event with a Closing Ceremony, one that saluted the participants, their parents and their teachers.
We were done by 10:30, 90 minutes earlier than I had scheduled. A major bonus.
I want to thank everyone who made the 2017 Rod Dixon’s Kidsmarathon such a rousing success and invite them back next year to do it all again!
“Winning is Finishing, Finishing is Winning”
For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here