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Fall Foliage 5K race honors beloved Maine teacher

The Tony Waldeier Scholarship Fund offers a $1K scholarship to each Waterford child who graduates high school.

WATERFORD, Maine — 5K races are plentiful during the summer and fall months, and one in western Maine has stood the test of time — uniting a small town and honoring one of their own.

The Fall Foliage 5K in Waterford returns for its 23rd year on October 8. 

The 5K, alongside a free mile-run for kids, is held in honor of Tony Waldeier, who was the principal of Waterford’s elementary school before dying of cancer in 2001. 

Race founder Martha Eaton explained the race funds $1,000 scholarships for every Waterford kid who graduates high school.

"Many, many children would come back to race as adults because they were his students, and people do remember that," Eaton said. "And it’s meaningful to the town. This whole common is full of families."

Indeed, Eaton, now retired from the role, expects upwards of 300 people to fill the center of town once again after the race was virtual for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than $80,000 has been granted to students over the past two decades.

The 5K begins at noon, with a chili cookoff competition after the race.

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