Last Run for Joe scholarship event planned
Twenty years ago, Mimo Leto and her family received a call no parent ever wants to receive.
She was notified her son, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Guiseppe “Joey” Leto, died during training exercises while serving his country.
In honor of his 21 years of life, the 21st annual and final Run for Joe will be held Oct. 6 at Canterbury School on Aspetuck Avenue in town.
“It’s just good fun and a celebration of his years of life,” Leto said of the event. “It keeps my son’s memory alive.”
The rain-or-shine event will raise funds for the Giuseppe Leto Scholarship Fund at the private school.
Although this will be the last Run for Joe, the scholarship will continue because it is now self-sustaining, Leto said.
Leto, who was a member of Canterbury's class of 1997, died while on a conditioning hike at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.
Participants may choose between a one-mile fun run or a 5K run/walk.
Individuals are welcome to sponsor runners, donate items such as food and drinks, or place a sign advertising the run at a place of business.
Registration will run from 12:30 to 1 p.m., with the walk/run to start at 1:30 p.m.
Following the run, a reception will be held near the Sheehy Family Field, or in the case of inclement weather, in the wrestling room in the Athletic Center.
Leto said being a part of the last Run for Joe will be bittersweet.
“I will miss seeing his friends from high school and college,” she said. “For one day at the event, 99 percent of them came.”
Though originally intended to be a one-time event, the Run for Joe became a tradition in New Milford.
Since its inception, the event has raised more than $200,000 in support of the memorial scholarship fund, which provides financial assistance to a New Milford-area day student attending Canterbury School each year.
Last year, more than $8,500 was raised.
Leto said it has been rewarding to receive a handwritten letter each year from the scholarship recipient. One year, she received two letters, one of which had a photograph of the recipient and his family.
All runners are asked to make a donation to the scholarship fund; each will receive a T-shirt.
Donations should be made out to Canterbury School, with “Run for Joe” in the memo, and mailed to Canterbury School, c/o Joe Leto Scholarship Fun, 101 Aspetuck Ave., New Milford, CT 06776 or be made online at https://www.cbury.org/runforjoe.
Donors are asked to be sure to include a mailing address, if not printed on the check, for proper recognition.
Family and friends describe Joe as a passionate member of the school wrestling team who enjoyed spending time with his friends.
Following his graduation, he went on to attend Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., to study business.
In 1998, he decided to serve his country by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. After going through boot camp on Paris Island, he reported to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for 16 weeks of training.
For information or to volunteer to help or make a donation to the event, call Mimi Leto at 860-354-4038 or 203-448-9325.