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Stratford Cousin Honors Slain Teacher Vicki Soto With Upcoming 5K

James Wiltsie, organizer of the Vicki Soto 5K
James Wiltsie, organizer of the Vicki Soto 5K Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Runners take off in the 2014 Vicki Soto 5K
Runners take off in the 2014 Vicki Soto 5K Photo Credit: Contributed photo

STRATFORD, Conn. — A Stratford man who serves as a Fairfield police officer turned to his own hobby of running to honor the memory of his cousin,  Vicki Soto, a Newtown teacher who was among the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings

Thousands of runners, walkers and fans of teachers are expected to converge on Stratford’s picturesque Lordship neighborhood Nov. 7 for the third annual Vicki Soto 5K in her hometown.

“After the tragedy, we all became committed to turning the tragedy into community positivity, and keeping her legacy alive through education, literacy and community service,” said said event organizer Jim Wiltsie, who was Soto’s cousin. He helped form The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that counts on the race as its largest fundraiser.

“We knew we wanted to award scholarships for future teachers, from both Stratford high schools, and we needed a large community event to raise the funds and allow the Memorial Fund to be sustainable,” he said.

Wiltsie, a runner, and others planned the first event in 2013, hoping it would be a success. The new event drew roughly 1,800 registrants and raised more than $30,000. About 2,800 people participated in the 2014 event, which raised another $50,000. To date, the Fund has awarded more than $25,000 in educational scholarships.

Organizers said they look forward to the family-friendly day, which encourages schoolchildren to participate. This year’s T-shirt logo for the children’s run was designed by a student at the recently opened Victoria Soto Elementary School.

“We remain completely overwhelmed with local businesses, fellow nonprofit organizations, the Stratford community and the support of runners, and non runners, who share in our mission to keep her memory alive,” Wiltsie said.

The race/walk steps off at 10 a.m. at 550 Main St., preceded by a kids’ fun run at 9:30 a.m. The festivities also include a children’s tent, awards, food and beer tents and a birthday celebration to commemorate what would have been Soto’s 30th birthday on Nov. 14. Race registration closed on Nov. 1 and more than 2,200 people had already registered by Oct. 26, said Wiltsie.

For more information on this year’s race, click here

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