by Martha Eaton and Nancy Eaton
The Waterford Fall Foliage Road Race was started in 2000 with an enthusiastic committee composed of Tim Lorrain, Dottie Bell, John Martin, Fred Fortier, and John Howe, all under the watchful eye of Martha Eaton from the Waterford Recreation committee. The first race was in memory of Margaret Sawyer, who ran the Boston Marathon at age 73. The following year, the race became a scholarship fundraiser in memory of Tony Waldeier, a great teacher and mentor at the Waterford Memorial School. Tony’s strong but gentle presence had a tremendous impact on hundreds of students during his 30-year career. For many years he was both the fifth grade teacher and school principal - an almost Herculean feat, and as such, achieved a high position of respect. He was also an early KLA board member.
In 2004, George and Roxanne Ames joined the committee and have managed registration ever since. In 2009, George built the website www.waterfordfall5k.com and Roxanne followed with a facebook page www.facebook.com/Fall5k. Jane Trail manages awards and coordinates all the volunteers. Donna McCarraher designs and creates the ever-popular t-shirts, and provides water and snacks for the runners. Carol Waldeier takes care of publicity. Several individuals have handled road signs and course management over the years, especially Tim Lorrain, Tom Briggs, and Chris Brennan. Stoneham Rescue, Waterford Fire Department, and Waterford Town Hall all provide valuable services. The Rounds family allows use of their field for parking, and Amity Shlaes shares her yard for race registration.
Many families have run together for years, especially the Chingos family of Brunswick (Meg and Whizzer Wheeler's daughter). The Waldeier children continue to race, and Gardner and Jesse present all the awards in their father’s memory. The Sawyer family, in memory of Margaret, continue to run and volunteer, as do members of the Eaton and Stockwell families. Many children who first do the One-mile Fun Run, now run the 5K.
A 20th Anniversary Souvenir Road Race Booklet was created by a few Board members along with Bill Haynes’ journalistic expertise and photo archives. Many past runners and volunteers wrote letters about what the race meant to them: from our youngest runner in our first race, Jared Whichard; to his grandmother Bobbie; to new runner, Melissa Tarbell, winning her very first race. It indeed “takes a village.” This is a true community day with volunteers, family and friends cheering the runners on - with the added reward of the Waterford/Harrison PTO-sponsored Chili Cook-off.
We couldn’t hold this race without the incredible support of our Sponsors. Some have been with us since 2000: Jeff Ward Excavation, Bobby and Jane Strauss/Camp Wigwam, Stan Blane Neon Signs, Tom Murch/Murch Concrete, and Tom Chadbourne/Waterford Properties. Dottie Bell/Thunder Hill Farm, and Steve Estes/Estes Building and Remodeling are both 19-year sponsors. We also wish to recognize and thank all the loyal anonymous donors. Thanks to all this support, over the past 21 years, $80,000 in scholarships have been given to 107 Waterford students. We are so grateful for this continuing opportunity to give back.