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In Greenland, they run to remember Chief Maloney, Boston Marathon victims
Runners and walkers take off at the starting line for the Chief Maloney Unity Walk/Run outside the Portsmouth Police Department Sunday morning. (JASON SCHREIBER PHOTO)
It's the message that has helped the department through its darkest days after the death of Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney last April.
The olive green T-shirts stood out in the crowd as an estimated 1,500 runners and walkers took part in Sunday's second annual "Chief Maloney Unity Run/Walk" - a 5.6-mile journey from the Portsmouth Police Department to the Greenland Police Department.
"This is a way to keep moving forward, but never forget. We can't allow people to forget the sacrifices," said Portsmouth police officer Bob Lukacz, who helped come up with the idea for the run last year in the days after Maloney's death.
Lukacz said he was thinking about bringing some people together for a "jog to burn off some steam" after the shooting, but it didn't take long for the idea to make the rounds on Facebook. The "jog" quickly grew into an event that attracted nearly 2,000 participants last year.
"It really is an amazing thing. There's so much support from everybody," he said.
Maloney was killed in a shooting during a drug raid at the Greenland home of Cullen Mutrie on April 12, 2012. Mutrie opened fire on members of the Attorney General's Drug Task Force, killing Maloney and wounding four other officers. Mutrie later killed his estranged girlfriend, Brittany Tibbetts before turning the gun on himself.
Organizers changed the name of this year's event from the "Chief Maloney Memorial Run" to the "Chief Maloney Unity Run/Walk."
"To me, it was about changing it from a memorial thing to a celebration of all that is good within the law enforcement community. A lot of police departments around the state are doing it as a team," said John Mortimer, owner and founder of Millennium Running, which manages the event.
Last year's run, which organizers pulled together in just six days, raised $54,000 for the Chief Michael Maloney Memorial Fund, which provides financial support to public safety members and their families injured or killed in the line of duty; gives scholarships to members of public safety agencies and their children or members of the community looking to enter the public safety field; and provides community grants in Maloney's memory or his interests, or for training or equipment for public safety agencies.
Many of those who participated were police officers who were joined by their family members while others were members of local communities who felt they should support the cause.
Twenty six women ran with "Maloney's Angels," a group organized by Tanya MacLean, whose brother is a police officer in Stratham and a member of the Seacoast Emergency Response Team that assisted on the night of the shooting.
Most of the members of "Maloney's Angels" are connected to the law enforcement through their husbands, relatives or friends.
Jen Wells, who lives in Raymond, grew up in Greenland. Her husband, Brett Wells, is a Brentwood police officer.
She said the group was about to have their pink T-shirts printed when the bombers struck the Boston Marathon, so they added a ribbon to the sleeves in memory of the victims.
Kathy Fotheringham of Stratham, whose husband, Grant, is a Stratham officer, said the Boston Marathon gave the Maloney run an "enhanced meaning."
Others said they felt it was even more important to participate this year in light of the Boston bombings. A moment of silence was held at the start of the run.
"The tragedy in Boston certainly brought a lot of runners together emotionally," Mortimer said.
Jeff Lebel and Melissa Pike of Goffstown ran the event for the first time.
"Seeing (the bombings) happen was tough knowing that the running community is such a tight community. Over the last year we've been doing a lot of races and it was terrible to watch, but we definitely didn't want it to prevent us from coming out," Lebel said.
Participants were given cups of water from volunteers along the route and encouragement from the many residents who came out of their homes to cheer on the runners and walkers. One little boy held a flag while the Bunker family posted a sign on their front lawn with a message: "We'll never forget you Chief Maloney. R.I.P 260."
Rebecca Boutselis of Merrimack and Savannah Brennan of Milton are friends who ran together.
Brennan, a police officer from Hampton, ran while pushing her 11-month-old daughter, Paige.
"I haven't run a road race in 10 years, but I'm up for this one. It's definitely for a good cause," she said.
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