NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — Mainers came together Sunday morning to honor the memory of Somerset County Sheriff's Department Corporal Eugene Cole, better known as Gene.
Corporal Cole was killed in April of 2018 in Norridgewock after attempting to make an arrest.
To honor his memory, more than 150 community members ran or walked in his name in Norridgewock on Sunday in the 2021 Corporal Cole Memorial 5k & Half Marathon.
The race raises money for a scholarship that Corporal Cole's family started at the Maine Community Foundation to honor his passion for law enforcement.
His brother Tom Cole says the event keeps the late Corporal's memory alive.
“To see all the first responders, from all over coming together and he's not forgotten. My brother is not forgotten because they remember!" said Tom Cole.
"We are just celebrating the man that he was!" Tom Cole said.
"He was loving, compassionate, he was fair, you know just a great guy, and he had a story about everyone!” said Logan Roberts, who works for the Somerset Sherriff’s Department.
Roberts says Cpl. Cole taught him everything he needed to know during his first 8 months on the job as a 22-year-old.
“Even to this day, sometimes I'll be somewhere and get choked up about it, it'll never not be there,” added Roberts.
Many participants raced in uniform on Sunday. Roberts was the first officer in uniform who made it back to the finish line.
Jeff Pardue, who works for the Falmouth Police Department, made the drive to Norridgewock to show his support. Pardue said, "This is an awesome opportunity for us to come together as a profession, not only law enforcement but all first responders, and come out today and obviously show our support, but also bond as one unit."
Skowhegan firefighter Paris Baxter was also thinking of fire captain Michael Bell while she ran Sunday morning. Bell was killed in the Farmington gas leak explosion two years ago.
“So it's important for me now to honor them both, in one large setting,” said Baxter.
Baxter ran in full firefighting gear to honor Bell’s legacy.
“To me, it makes sense to wear exactly what I would wear to an emergency, and to the accident when I responded, that's what I wore too,” said Baxter.
Baxter raced with a heavy heart.
“I have a feeling it's going to be really emotional, I cried yesterday thinking about it,” said Baxter.
Many people pushed their limits throughout the race in honor of Corporal Cole and other fallen heroes, including Bruce Ferris, the oldest race runner.
“I've been doing it every year since we've had the Corporal races here and this will probably be my last walk, I just turned 87 Monday!" said Ferris.
People can donate in Corporal Cole's name directly to the Maine Community Foundation. The proceeds will all go to support a community member who is interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or public safety and is deserving of the scholarship.