PAWTUCKET â€” The location has changed and so has the weekend, but the Memorial 5K Run/Walk for PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu is returning to the area and eager to bring the community back together for a fun-filled day at Slater Park.
The event, which will take place on Sunday, June 3, at 9 a.m., will again pay tribute to Coutu, a 2009 graduate of Tolman High and football and wrestling captain and a U.S. Marine who was killed on Feb. 18, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
The proceeds will help support the PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu Memorial Fund, which has been going strong for the past three years and is set up to provide scholarships to Tolman High students in post-secondary education.
It will also help maintain the practice football field behind Tolman that was dedicated in Coutuâ€™s name, as well as help with equipment and expenses for the school athletic programs at Tolman High and support other benefits.
Last yearâ€™s inaugural race took place on May 21 in downtown Pawtucket as part of the Cherry Tree Running Festival, and while the race was a success, drawing 871 runners, something was missing from the event.
â€śWe wanted this race to be more city-oriented, more about the community,â€ť admitted Ron Coutu, Kyleâ€™s grandfather and the father of the race director, Melissa Coutu, Kyleâ€™s mother. â€śWe want this race to be more of a morning in the park for families and friends.â€ť
While a few things have changed in this yearâ€™s 5K, some things have stayed the same, such as the large race committee and group of volunteers that has assisted the Coutu family in preparing for next weekâ€™s race.
Among the committee members are Gil Tavares, Tammy Souza, road racing veteran Bob Affonso, and longtime Tolman cross country and track and field coach John Toth.
â€śKyle was very active in the community and at Tolman,â€ť added Ron Coutu. â€śJohn (Toth) got quite a contingent from the school coming to the race, and weâ€™re expecting a big turnout.â€ť
Last yearâ€™s winner was former Tolman standout runner Anthony Gonsalves, who was a teammate of Coutuâ€™s on the Tigersâ€™ outdoor track and field team. He finished in a 16:07.6 time to hold off ex-St. Raphael Academy All-State runner Chris Magill by 12.6 seconds.
As of this past weekend, it is unknown if Gonsalves or last yearâ€™s womenâ€™s winner, Providenceâ€™s Kim Jackson, who was sixth overall in a 18:41.9 time, will be back to defend their championships.
Among the highlights of the race will be a raffle for all runners and walkers entered in the race. Each participant will receive a free entry and vie for one of over 40 prizes donated by local merchants and restaurants that are valued between $15-50.
There will also be a â€śSuper Raffleâ€ť where participants can purchase tickets for $5 each and try their luck at a $100 gift card for Flemings Steakhouse in Providence, a foursome of golf at Swansea Country Club, and a one-night hotel stay at one of six prestigious hotels in southeastern New England.
The first 250 runners/walkers who register will also receive a race â€śgoodie bagâ€ť that includes the race t-shirt designed by Kyleâ€™s mother, along with a water bottle, coupons, and extra goodies.
The top three male and female finishers will receive cash prizes, and the top finishers in several age groups will also receive medals.
The fee to register for the race is $20 ($25 on race day). To sign up online, visit www.spitlerracesystems.com and click online registration to sign up or make a donation. For more information, send an email to MCoutu@cox.net.