WILMINGTON -- Friends of a fallen soldier and former police officer plan to march in Brattleboro's Fourth of July Parade to promote a 5K event in September that will honor the life of this man.
"We're going to walk with the yellow ribbon, the finish line and signs from the race," said former Wilmington Police Officer Greg Murano. "We're going to give out registration forms and try to get the word out. I figure it's a good patriotic crowd to get the information out to."
He said that he'd like to get as many people as he can to march with his group.
The fifth annual Lt. Mark H. Dooley 5K Race will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21. The walk starts at 9:30 a.m. while the run will begin at 10 a.m. The distance for both are 3.1 miles long.
The race starts and finishes at the Twin Valley High School at 1 School Street in Wilmington. Prizes will include custom awards and trophies.
Usually, the race draws about 100 people or more. There are various categories divided up by age and sex. This year, organizers would like to see 300 participants.
"The event is to honor an American in the community and keep his memory alive in the area," said Murano. "It started as a living tribute to Mark Dooley and was put on by his friends."
Dooley was a Wilmington Police officer before he was deployed to Iraq.
The Bennington band Welkin Again will be performing during the event and a hot breakfast will be provided to participants.
Proceeds from the event will go towards the Mark Dooley Memorial Fund, a scholarship offered to students about to graduate from Twin Valley High School. It also has assisted with the school's athletics program in the past.
The scholarship is offered to anyone going into a service field, which includes firefighting, military, teaching, medical, law enforcement and more. Students submit an essay and the Wilmington Police Department as well as the school board are involved in selecting a person.
Last year, some funds went to a Spanish group from the school. Its members assisted at the event as volunteers.
A raffle will be held to benefit the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation.
On Sept. 19, 2005, Dooley was killed while leading a scout platoon in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
Dooley grew up in Wallkill, N.Y., where he was an avid athlete. He moved to Vermont to attend the private military school Norwich University and the Vermont Police Academy.
Dooley began his career in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff at the Windham County Sheriff's Department. Then, he went on to become a Wilmington Police officer.
As a member of the Vermont Army National Guard, he was a First Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Mountain Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division, which is based in Jericho.
Murano told the Reformer that Dooley's graduating the Army's Ranger School was an extraordinary feat that not just anyone could accomplish.
According to a website devoted to the race, Dooley was quoted by President George W. Bush during a speech on Memorial Day 2006.
"Before he left for his tour, he gave his parents a last letter, just in case," Bush said. "He wrote, ‘Remember that my leaving was in the service of something that we loved, and be proud. The best way to pay respect is to value why a sacrifice was made.'"
After that day, Dooley's mother decided he should be buried in the Arlington Cemetery, where he would forever be honored as a fallen soldier.
Organizers of the event recommend registering early, which will save participants money.
Adults 18 and over, who register before Aug. 31, pay $20 and kids pay $15. After Aug. 31, or day of the race registration, adults pay $25 and kids pay $15.
"We strive each year to grow the event," said Murano. "I'd like to try and have a better turnout each year. It's very important to me as well as friends and family in Wilmington. We try to keep it going and get people interested and get more support every year."
People can register online or pay by check order. The website also offers sponsorship opportunities. Organizers are also looking for volunteers for assistance on race day. The flyer is available on the website, too. People are free to post copies anywhere to promote the event.
For more information, visit markdooley5k.com.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.