Firefighters, police officers to face off at city Walk for Warmth

Monday, March 9, 2015
Meriden Record-Journal
Meriden, CT

This year’s Walk for Warmth will feature a new sort of challenge: a friendly rivalry between the city’s police and fire departments during the 5-kilometer race portion of the event.

Organized by New Opportunities Inc., the event raises money to help families pay heating costs. Dona Ditrio, director of New Opportunities, said Monday more than $280,000 has been raised, which has helped more than 1,400 families since 1999, the last year for which data was available.

The money is used to help families who have exhausted all other resources but are still falling behind in paying heating costs. Ditrio said last year the event helped families who were trying to overcome funeral costs, sudden unemployment, and increased costs related to disabled family members.
“There are some things we take for granted, like having hot water or heat, but these families have to make choices and often that’s not one of them,” she said.

Typically held as a walk, last year a 5k race was introduced to the Walk for Warmth.

This year it will host a footrace between public safety departments.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, City Councilor Miguel Castro, who is also the honorary chairman of the event, said that members of both police and fire departments will race to raise funds for the cause.

Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said, “I think where it hits home for police and fire is that we’re inside these homes every day. We go inside the homes and see people aren’t eating or they don’t have heat in their homes, so this is a program we wholeheartedly support, and will do anything we can do to help.”

Following him, Fire Chief Ken Morgan said, “Anytime the fire department has the opportunity to come out and help the community, we take it up. (This is) a project that touches home for our fire department, because of the fact we deal with folks day in and day out so we see them at their best and we also see them at their worst.

“That kind of pulls at us a little bit so we see an opportunity to give back to the community and we wholeheartedly step up to the plate to take care of it,” he said.

Castro said seven firefighters and four police officers have registered for the race so far.

“From what I’m hearing, the police think those four guys will be enough to beat all seven firefighters, so it should be good,” he said.

This year the Walk for Warmth is scheduled for March 28 at 10 a.m., starting at the First Congregational Church, 62 Colony St.

For more information, visit the New Opportunities Inc. website.


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