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Thread: 5th Firefighters 6K event

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    5th Firefighters 6K event

    5th Firefighters 6K event


    Participants honor Pipes and Drums co-founder
    Melanie Mangum
    T&G STAFF


    WORCESTER- As the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums played "Amazing Grace," the family of Worcester firefighter Lt. Richard W. Halvorsen released two bunches of red, black and yellow balloons to mark the start of the fifth annual Worcester Firefighters Memorial 6K Run and Walk yesterday.

    This year's race was dedicated to Lt. Halvorsen, a 26-year veteran of the fire department who died Jan. 6 at age 50.

    "He was a huge part of our fire department and a huge part of this race," said Firefighter John G. Franco, who organized the event. "He will be truly missed."

    Lt. Halvorsen's family and friends, wearing T-shirts that read "In loving memory of our hero," ran and walked the nearly four-mile course that began at Institute Park yesterday.

    Lt. Halvorsen's mother-in-law, Helen B. Zarozny, said the race and the ceremony was a beautiful and emotional tribute. Lt. Halvorsen was co-founder of the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums, and he ran with his wife, Michelle, in previous races.

    "He deserves it," said Lt. Halvorsen's daughter, Erica, who ran with her mother, her sister, Lisa, and her brother, Keith.

    The run and walk was organized after the death of six Worcester firefighters in the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Fire in 1999. The annual event raises money for local charities as well as for the construction of a Worcester Firefighters Memorial.

    Firefighter Franco estimated that $40,000 to $50,000 was raised at the race, which drew more than 1,000 runners - including a New York Firefighters running group. The charities that benefit from this year's race include Jeremiah's Inn, the Kids Cafe of the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, the Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts and the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts.

    "We're truly grateful to the fire department for their support of us," said Nicole E. Valentine, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts, whose husband is a Worcester firefighter.

    "It's a beautiful day. We know the guys are looking down on us today," Ms. Valentine said.

    This year's event drew a host of young runners to the race and many of the participants said the reason they were running was to honor family or friends who have served or are still serving on the Worcester Fire Department. As in past years, there were also several running groups made up of firefighters and police officers, prompting race organizers to institute a Public Safety Team Award this year.

    Christopher T. Favulli, 12, of Shrewsbury, ran with a neighbor, Chad A. Onofrio. Mr. Onofrio said Christopher's father, Ernie Favulli, encouraged them both to run.

    "His grandfather was the first Italian-American hired to the Worcester Fire Department in 1921," Ernie Favulli said of Christopher. The Favulli family history also includes a third-generation firefighter cousin and a police officer father.

    Ernie Favulli, who has run in two of the previous four road races, couldn't participate this year because of an injured foot. However, he came to cheer on his son and Mr. Onofrio.

    "They should be able to do it in 45 minutes or less," Mr. Favulli said.

    The event isn't simply a fund-raiser, but a way for the fire department to show appreciation for the community's support, Firefighter Favulli said.

    "We give a lot back," Firefighter Franco said. "It's not just a race to raise money. It's a time for the community to come out and enjoy."

    Firefighter Franco said financial and product donations are welcome throughout the year, through the organization's Web site, www.wfd6K.org.

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    Memorial 6K Race

    Two Worcester firefighters cover their hearts with their helmets yesterday during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner.'' (T&G Staff / CHRISTINE PETERSON)

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