Going distance for Emily

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Sam Fletcher can’t help but think that his sister would be thrilled, not in just the work of her family but also in her community.

“I’m sure she would be very proud,” said Fletcher.

Saturday will be the third annual Emily Fletcher Memorial 5-kilometer road race. After success its first two years, the race is still going strong.

“We got the word out earlier this year,” said Fletcher. “So it looks like the numbers will be better than the last two years prior. It’s definitely looking good this year.”

The race is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Edward Little High School. The race had 200 entrants last year and raised $4,000 for the Emily Fletcher Memorial Foundation. The money will go toward scholarships and the Auburn Public Library Building Foundation.

“It’s going well since now we know the ropes and know to plan ahead,” said Fletcher. “So we already have 100 people registered. Last year, I think we only had 60 at this time.”

Sam is hoping to surpass last year’s money and thinks they could have 250 to 300 runners participate this year.

“$5,000 would be a good goal,” said Fletcher. “(250 to 300 runners) would be pretty good and pretty realistic as well.”

Emily was a championship cross country and track and field athlete at EL. She attended college at the University of Vermont, where she majored in nutrition and dietetics. While on her way home during a holiday break, she was killed Dec. 18, 2004, in a traffic accident east of the Maine-New Hampshire border. She was just 21.

The event’s theme “Run For Em” has resonated with her community, and while it can be challenging to maintain momentum for an event like these, Fletcher says Emily’s race has plenty of stamina.

“The community is so great that everyone comes together and tries to help out,” said Fletcher. “They realize that it’s a great cause. Everyone kind of bonds together and does whatever they can to help. So because how great the community is, it will be something that will live on without having to hype it up.”

The race starts at 10, but registration goes from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Registration on Saturday will be $15.

“People showed up at a quarter to eight last year,” said Fletcher. “So it will be good if people show up a little early.”

There will be four divisions, 19-and-under, 20-34, 35-49 and 50-and-over. Local business have provided gift certificates for the top two in each division.

“Everyone has been open-armed and done whatever they can, and that’s great,” said Fletcher.

The course is the same as past years. It leaves Edward Little High School and continues onto Western and Park avenues, then to Gamage Avenue past the Fletcher’s home, before it ends back at the school via Shepley Street.

Fletcher says the success and the reward of hosting such an event has played out exactly as he had hoped.

“Especially on the day of the race and seeing everybody come together, the community coming together and being able to award people with scholarships and how gracious the library was when we gave them a donation, it’s definitely a great feeling,” he said.

A pair of $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to EL’s Breanna Wing and Justina Williamson. Recipients are chosen for their academic performance, leadership and athletic achievement, all qualities embodied by Emily herself.

Fletcher, a standout at the University of Virginia, missed running the race last year because of an injury and has decided to pass this year. He wants to devote his time to the event and make sure things run smoothly.

In future years, Fletcher hopes Emily’s legacy can live on through the race and continue to rally the community for the common good.

“We’ll try to keep it simple and try to increase the numbers every year, and just have it become more of an event,” he said.

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