NORRIDGEWOCK — Sheryl Cole stood at the starting line for the half marathon Sunday morning, moments after dozens of runners took off toward Main Street.

It has been nearly four months since her husband, Somerset County Sheriff’s Corporal Eugene Cole was killed in the line of duty April 25.

She was moved that so many people — 1,000 in fact — turned out for the Corporal Cole Memorial 5K and Half Marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund in her late husband’s name.

“It’s magnificent, and thanks to everyone involved,” she said.

State and local police,  as well as sheriff’s, border patrol and fire officials, game wardens, business people, school children and others from all over Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire started gathering around 6 a.m. at Mill Stream Elementary School for the 7 a.m. half marathon and 8 a.m. 5K.

It was a perfect, sunny morning and the mood was buoyant as runners and walkers milled about, preparing for the races. Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, ran in the half marathon.

Because Cole’s badge number was 1312, each mile was marked at .12, and the half marathon was for 13.12 miles.

Jessica Gleason, one of six organizers of the event, said it had been in the planning less than three months and people were eager to take part. Though she did not want to reveal the amount of money raised, she indicated it was significant.

Hundreds of runners start in the Cpl. Gene Cole Memorial 5K and Half Marathon races in Norridgewock on Sunday. Staff photo by David Leaming

“We’re going to be able to get a couple of cadets to the police academy and create a scholarship fund that will be able to sustain itself, year after year,” Gleason said.

Many Businesses and law enforcement departments ran in teams. Waterville Deputy police Chief Bill Bonney said Saturday, the day before the races, that the Waterville Police Department had a 12-member team taking part that included not only officers but their family members as well. Officer Ryan Dinsmore, Dispatcher Brandy Stanley and sergeants Jason Longley, Jennifer Weaver and Lincoln Ryder were among those who had signed up. For Bonney and the department, being there to show support was important.

“Obviously, it was an incredibly tragic event and I think part of the point is to bring community together to support the family of Eugene Cole and really, I think it’s about healing as much as anything else,” Bonney said.

Weaver said Sunday, just before running in the half marathon, that she and Cole were in the same class at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in 2006 and she was running to support his family and the scholarship fund.

“He was just a kind person,” she said.

Susan Roy, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Waterville area, and her son, Jared, Goss, were planning to run in the 5K. Roy said Saturday that her husband, Jim Roy, a lieutenant on the call force at Waterville Fire Department, and Goss, 17, who would graduate later Sunday from the Firefighter 1 & 2 certification program, played in a softball tournament June 30 to honor the Cole family. Susan Roy, describing herself as a “terrible” softball player, said she did not play in the tournament, but loves to run 5Ks and thought taking part in Sunday’s event with Goss would be fitting — and a way to represent those in the field of emergency services. Goss is a senior at Winslow High School and took firefighting at Mid-Maine Technical Center in Waterville, where he will take the EMT course in the fall.

Augusta police officers Carly Wiggins, left, and Sgt. Tori Tracy share a light moment before the start of the Cpl. Gene Cole Memorial 5K and Half Marathon races in Norridgewock on Sunday. Staff photo by David Leaming

“I thought it was a great way to show our support,” Roy said of participating in Sunday’s 5K.

The routes for both races led runners and walkers over the Corporal Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge twice, as well as through streets and roads in town. First place awards were given to participants in various age categories and other recognitions were to be issued, including a special award to a male who is 61, the age Eugene Cole was when he died, according to Gleason.

A physical therapy teacher at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, Gleason said she was overjoyed at Sunday’s turnout.

“I couldn’t have dreamed for this,” she said. “I teach at KVCC and I tell my students, ‘Dare to dream and dream to achieve,’ and this is certainly what’s happening here today.”

Augusta police Sgt. Tori Tracy and Augusta Officer Carly Wiggin were running as part of a 12-member team from their department. Wiggin said she enjoys running and is always looking for races to take part in.

“This is the perfect one,” she said. “The death of Eugene Cole touched everybody.”

Tracy said she has been in law enforcement 22 years and Cole’s death was the first “line of duty death” to happen during her career — a death she never thought would happen. She said she was running to honor Cole, participate in her first half marathon and be there for those who could not.

“I’m going to do it for him,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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