Milford 5K honors Newtown victim James Mattioli

Hundreds of people gathered in Milford Saturday for the third annual James Mattioli 5K, which honors a young boy killed in the Newtown school shootings in 2012.
The course started in front of the Milford Fire Department, passed the James Mattioli Playground, and ran along Gulf Beach before ending at Fowler Field. The Foran High School band performed at the event.

“James was a baseball loving, active six-year-old boy who lost his life in the tragic Newtown School shooting on December 14, 2012,” states a Facebook page announcing the annual fundraiser. “James was born in Milford and later relocated with his family to Newtown. With a bunch of lasting happy memories here in Milford, the Mattioli family has decided to create a scholarship fund for a Foran or Law high school student planning to attend college.”

All proceeds from the race will fund the scholarships.

“Our hope is to keep the legacy of James close to our hearts here in Milford and give back to the community which James was a part of,” the Facebook site reads.

The playground on Gulf Street, at the site of The Academy, also honors James. It was dedicated in March of 2014 after Milford firefighters combined forces with the Milford Recreation Department to conduct a benefit fundraiser for the playground. Then scores of volunteers gathered to build the playground. It is part of the Sandy Ground project, established by fire departments across the tri-state area with the idea of building 26 playgrounds across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Local firefighters continue to honor the memory of the young boy: A 5K banner hangs from the front of the downtown firehouse, and a painting in his memory decorates a front window at fire headquarters: angel wings sprouting from a green ribbon.