May 25, 2018
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NROTC to host first Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge at UMaine

courtesy of Greater Houlton Christian Academy
courtesy of Greater Houlton Christian Academy
First Lt. James Zimmerma
By Joni Averill

Members of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Battalion at the University of Maine in Orono and Maine Maritime Academy in Castine are in the process of establishing a scholarship in memory of one of their fallen comrades, and they are seeking your support to accomplish that objective.

This is the inaugural year for the 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge, open to four-person teams of all ages and all abilities.

The ZFC, as it is known, will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the NROTC House on the UMaine campus in Orono. A barbecue follows the event.

The donation is $40 per team and, as organizers stress, everyone is welcome.

The teams will compete in several physical challenges ranging from sit-ups to running and conditioning circuits in one of four brackets: Hardcore, for the toughest; Hardened, for the intense; Motivated, for the athletic; and Family, for the motivated of all ages and abilities.

Prizes will be awarded to the top teams, and you can register your teams by emailing

For more information, email, and complete information is available at

As that site states, this event was established to honor and remember Lt. Zimmerman, who was killed in action Nov. 2 while conducting combat operations during Operation Enduring Freedom in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.

A Presque Isle native, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003. Upon graduation from UMaine in 2008, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines.

I spoke with GySgt. John Fergeson, USMC, a UMaine senior enrolled in the School of Forestry, who is a member of the host NROTC.

He told me this fundraiser is “all about the students who are in the shoes where James was six years ago.”

The NROTC Battalion, which is based at MMA and also serves UMaine,  is working “to raise $15,000 to establish a memorial scholarship in James’ name, to go on, in perpetuity,” Fergeson said.

“We have to raise that money to start it, and the UMaine Foundation will match $5,000 of that,”

Fergeson said, adding, however, that  “the primary goal” of the ZFC “is to bring in people to support the people who serve our nation.”

He was quick to point out, however, that the student organizers “understand that the whole title, Fitness Challenge, has the potential to scare off a lot of people,” which is why organizers are working hard to stress that there are “four different competitive levels, with the lowest being the Family level that is feasible for any family,” he said.

For example, Hardcore teams will be asked to do 150 pull-ups per team, while Family teams will be asked to complete only 20, and Hardcore teams must complete a 3-mile run, all together, but Family teams run only five laps.

Each competing team is asked to be sure to bring water, a strong, sturdy backpack and “extreme motivation,” according to the ZFC flier.

Pre-registration would be most helpful for the hosts, but is not necessary, Fergeson said.

“We would love to see people pre-register, but since this is our first time out, we welcome all.

“We want them to come the day of the event, and they can register on-site.”

If you can’t physically participate in this very special fundraiser but want to contribute to this scholarship  in honor of one of Maine’s own who gave his life in service to his country, you can visit the website, scroll down the left side and click on How to Donate.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402;; 990-8288.

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