Community Support Floods in at Addison Coty Memorial Turkey Trot

Hundreds came to support the Addison Coty Memorial Turkey Trot in Robbinston on Saturday, surpassing all expectations with their donations. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Mejias)

By Lura Jackson

When a community experiences the loss of one of its brightest stars, it is not a loss experienced in isolation. The tragic, unexpected death of 18-year old Addison Coty a few months after he graduated from Calais High School earlier this year has led to a massive outpouring of support from individuals and businesses throughout the state. That support manifested in full form on November 24th when hundreds gathered in Robbinston for the first annual Addison Coty Memorial Turkey Trot 5k.

Along with raising awareness of how reckless behavior can be instantly fatal, as in the case of the high-speed vehicular crash that cost Addison’s life, the goal of the event – organized in part by Addison’s mother, Angela Coty Demmons – was to create a scholarship fund for graduating seniors from Calais High School. Her wish was to reach $1,000 in donations and race registrations. While the donations are still coming in, that amount was met, and more: after expenses (including turkeys for the top three finishers in every age category for both genders), approximately $5,500 will be going into the scholarship fund – enough for five and a half years of scholarships.

“The race went amazing!” summarized Demmons. “So much more than we expected. It just shows how much my son was, and is loved.” With 120 runners participating and many more than came to volunteer or to simply show support, the school was packed, Demmons said. “It was just unreal.”

 

In reflecting on the event, co-organizer Jamie Thigpen began by sharing the impact of his loss. “The morning he died sent shockwaves through the community,” Thigpen recalled. “The heart-breaking pain during those next few days was so hard to see. His friends all gathered together early that morning and just stuck together through that day and the next, at the viewings, at the funeral, and at the graveside. The grieving did not end there.”

When Thigpen heard Demmons was putting together a race, she quickly stepped up to help. While neither knew anything about race organization, they were committed to succeeding – and others came forward in tandem to assist however they could. Faith and Rod Tirrell mapped out the course, Amber and Angela Demmons solicited “more sponsors and donations that we even dreamed of,” Kati Grass and the business class of St. Croix Regional Tech created flyers and race registrations, and Toby Cole ordered supplies, Thigpen provided. Arran Stevens, organizer of the Suddy 5k, reached out as soon as he heard about Addison’s race. “His knowledge was immeasurable and we could not have down this without him. He was the reason this went off so smoothly,” Thigpen said. During the race itself, Tommy Critchley helped keep all the runners and spectators safe, organizing the on-site ambulance and providing traffic control.

 

“This whole entire thing was a labor of love,” Thigpen said. “I was honored to be a part of something so beautiful.” Thigpen shared that the event was simultaneously heartbreaking as well – “because who really wants to organize a race for a young man who passed before he had a chance to reach his dreams?”

For Rod Tirrell, this year’s overwhelming success has led to early anticipation for next year. “I am in awe of the love and generosity demonstrated by our community once again…I feel fortunate to have been a part of it all. Next year will be even better!”

The top three male finishers in the 5k race were Eric Mauricette, 28, with a time of 21:12; Peter Williams, 40, with a time of 21:19; and Evan Merchant, 17, with a time of 23:06. Merchant was among Addison’s biggest competitors, explained Thigpen, “but an even bigger friend on the course. They ran together for years and were more like family. He said Addison would have hated that course because he hated running on a hilly course and would try to do anything to get out of the one in Orono,” she shared with a laugh.

The top three female finishers were Katie King, 36, with a time of 26:06; Tricia Brown, 45, with a time of 27:51; and Heather Redding White, 42, with a time of 28:40. White said it was amazing to see such a turnout in the community. “The volunteers who organized the event did an incredible job,” White said. While she shares that she didn’t know Addison personally, she had seen him run the International Festival races and was awed by his talent. “I wanted my son, Noah, to experience his first 5k with me at this event because I knew that the love and support for this young man and his family would be evident on Saturday. It certainly was.”

White adds that she has run many different races around the state, in New Hampshire, and as far away as Disney World – and that she has been wanting to see a Turkey Trot in this area for years. “I feel that the race will grow over time and this will continue as a wonderful annual event for the community.”