This fall will mark five years since Stuart “Toby” Pennels’ life was taken too quickly at the age of 55. He left behind a wife and three children – and a community that adored him immensely for his positive impact on the world around him.
Seven months after his death, the first annual Toby’s Dream Memorial 5K was held at
Windham High School (WHS) to initially help a community-wide fundraiser to raise funds to pave the roadway to the Windham Veteran’s Center, located behind the Windham Mall. As a retired U.S. Army Colonel, Pennels’ dream to have easy access to the veteran’s center came true when over $8,000 funds raised from the 5K, adding the funds needed for the total costs.
With the exception of one summer, the 5K has become a yearly event and the Fourth Annual Toby’s Memorial 5K run/walk will occur again this year and will begin the festivities at this Saturday’s Windham Summerfest on June 22nd with a race start time of 7:45 a.m. The cost of the run/walk is $20. One can register online at www.runinarace.com/TobysDream/index.html or on the day of the event. A one-mile run/walk option will also be available as part of the race. The one mile and 5K starting and finishing line will be located at the Windham High School canopy entrance.
WHS Cross Country Couch, Jeff Riddle has been and continues to be the race director. He stated that the funds raised will go toward the Toby Pennels Memorial Scholarship Fund, Windham High School Cross-Country team and the Joint Military Cadets of America. “All the funds generated, large or small, will go toward helping kids or graduates at WHS to Improve Their Position”
“Improve Your Position” (IYP) that Riddle refers to is from Pennels’ experience as a soldier. He adopted the mantra “Improve Your Position;” a phrase which refers to improving one’s fighting position/foxhole in a combat situation. In many respects, it became Toby’s defining philosophy in life.
For those who may feel intimidated by the word “race,” Riddle helps to improve their position. “I designed this race course to be a flat course so all can enjoy the challenge of it, and I also wanted it to run by many RSU#14 school buildings as Toby worked hard to support school programming within those buildings for many years,” Riddle said.
According to the Toby’s Memorial 5K website: “Toby personified the spirit of the selfless volunteer, taking on any task and spearheading numerous projects that enriched the lives of those in the community. Toby was a lifelong advocate for education, serving for many years on the Windham School Committee including two terms as Chairman.” Pennels was also President of the Windham Veterans Center.
Start your Saturday morning and the Summerfest by helping to “improve the position” for others – and yourself - and run/walk your way into the day.
Thank you to the following sponsors: Fleet Feet Maine Running Company – Portland, RSU#14 Windham Raymond School District, The Good Life Market, The Dugout. Signs donated by: Bob the Screenprinter