VIDEO

Community honors beloved Jay coach, educator battling cancer

Posted Nov. 11, 2013, at 5:35 p.m.
Jay schools' running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator Randy Easter, left center, strides past fellow participants at the Spruce Mountain High School track in Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 1-mile family fun run/walk fundraiser for Easter in his fight against cancer.
Jay schools' running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator Randy Easter, left center, strides past fellow participants at the Spruce Mountain High School track in Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 1-mile family fun run/walk fundraiser for Easter in his fight against cancer.
Participants in Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 5k cross-country race sprint down the Spruce Mountain High School track before heading around the field and into the woods.
Participants in Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 5k cross-country race sprint down the Spruce Mountain High School track before heading around the field and into the woods.
Following a Jay ceremony on Saturday on Lavoie Street Extension, runner, race-walker and skier Justin Easter, left, stands with his father, Randy Easter, in front of the town's new trail-grooming equipment building dedicated to Randy Easter.
Following a Jay ceremony on Saturday on Lavoie Street Extension, runner, race-walker and skier Justin Easter, left, stands with his father, Randy Easter, in front of the town's new trail-grooming equipment building dedicated to Randy Easter.
This new 14- by 28-foot hemlock-and-pine building that houses trail-grooming equipment for the Jay Recreation Area Trail System was constructed by volunteers, including Jay town officials, and dedicated on Saturday to Randy Easter, a beloved running and skiing coach and educator for Jay schools who is battling cancer.
This new 14- by 28-foot hemlock-and-pine building that houses trail-grooming equipment for the Jay Recreation Area Trail System was constructed by volunteers, including Jay town officials, and dedicated on Saturday to Randy Easter, a beloved running and skiing coach and educator for Jay schools who is battling cancer.
Participants in Saturday afternoon's 5k Running for Randy fundraiser for Randy Easter await the start of the cross-country run starting and finishing at the Spruce Mountain High School football field in Jay. More than 570 people of all ages participated in the run and a 1-mile family fun run/walk event.
Participants in Saturday afternoon's 5k Running for Randy fundraiser for Randy Easter await the start of the cross-country run starting and finishing at the Spruce Mountain High School football field in Jay. More than 570 people of all ages participated in the run and a 1-mile family fun run/walk event.
Taking a break from warming up for Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 1-mile family fun run/walk event at Spruce Mountain High School are 7-year-old Clorinda Simoneau, left, Madison Simoneau, 7, and Sarah Simoneau, 5. Clorinda and Sarah live in Durham, and Madison lives in Chester, N.H. The girls were wearing Stand Up To Cancer jerseys for Team Simoneau.
Taking a break from warming up for Saturday afternoon's Running for Randy 1-mile family fun run/walk event at Spruce Mountain High School are 7-year-old Clorinda Simoneau, left, Madison Simoneau, 7, and Sarah Simoneau, 5. Clorinda and Sarah live in Durham, and Madison lives in Chester, N.H. The girls were wearing Stand Up To Cancer jerseys for Team Simoneau.
This map shows the location of trails and the new Jay Recreation Area Trails System trail-grooming equipment building that was dedicated on Saturday to Randy Easter, a beloved running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator for the Jay schools.
This map shows the location of trails and the new Jay Recreation Area Trails System trail-grooming equipment building that was dedicated on Saturday to Randy Easter, a beloved running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator for the Jay schools.
Madison Simoneau, 7, of Chester, N.H., runs in Saturday's 1-mile family fun run/walk event, the first of two events in Running for Randy, a Spruce Mountain High School fundraiser in Jay for beloved running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator Randy Easter, who is battling cancer.
Madison Simoneau, 7, of Chester, N.H., runs in Saturday's 1-mile family fun run/walk event, the first of two events in Running for Randy, a Spruce Mountain High School fundraiser in Jay for beloved running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator Randy Easter, who is battling cancer.
During a short ceremony on Saturday, Randy Easter, right, and Jay Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt watch Selectman Tom Gordon remove the cardboard cover from a sign dedicating the new Jay Recreation Area Trail System trail-grooming equipment building to Easter.
During a short ceremony on Saturday, Randy Easter, right, and Jay Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt watch Selectman Tom Gordon remove the cardboard cover from a sign dedicating the new Jay Recreation Area Trail System trail-grooming equipment building to Easter.

JAY, Maine — Melting snow plopped loudly to the ground late Sunday morning as town officials surprised Randy Easter during a dedication ceremony to him at the end of Lavoie Street Extension.

Easter is a beloved longtime running, race-walking and skiing coach and educator for Jay schools. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer this spring and underwent chemotherapy and surgery in September.

On the town-owned Jay Recreation Area Trail System lot, volunteers, including town officials, built a 14- by 28-foot hemlock-and-pine building to house snowmobile, cross-country running and Nordic trail-grooming equipment.

At the ceremony just after noon, Easter stood beside Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt. Selectman Tom Goding, a building contractor, stood midway up a step ladder waiting to unveil the equipment building’s sign.

“This has been quite a little process, but it’s pretty much done thanks to Tom,” McCourt said.

“And you,” said Easter, who didn’t know about the sign that selectmen bought with money from their contingency fund and had lettered by SignWorks.

“We want to show Randy our appreciation for all he does for the people in the town of Jay, especially the young people,” McCourt said. “Go ahead, Tom.”

Goding then removed a cardboard cover from the sign, and Easter and McCourt took a step backward.

The sign reads: “This building dedicated to Randy Easter for outstanding service to the children and residents of the town of Jay, Nov. 10, 2013.”

“Thank you,” an awed Easter said to applause from a small crowd and family members gathered nearby. “I appreciate it.”

“This was an incredible surprise,” he said. “Not at all expected. I can’t describe what this means. This is just unbelievable. I’m very, very grateful to the community for supporting this effort, and, hopefully, the communities will use [the trails] in both winter and summer.”

Prior to the ceremony, McCourt said the building project started last winter when logger Ron Ridley was cutting timber from the 180-acre Recreation Lot property. It has roughly six or seven miles of multi-use trails.

Easter went before selectmen last year and asked about getting a used grooming and track-setting machine and drag for the trails.

This spring, Ridley finished two years of selective cutting on the lot. McCourt said he told him to take some logs over to his house, and he’d saw them out.

“So all the lumber that went into this building come off the Rec Lot,” McCourt said. “The only thing we had to buy was the doors, the steel roofing and nails and the cement pads under it.”

The new building is less than a mile from RSU 73′s Spruce Mountain middle and high schools.

Rob Taylor, the gifted and talented coordinator for the middle school and the high school honors physics teacher, said the early morning snowstorm was an unexpected bonus.

“I got out of bed this morning and saw the snow and said, ‘This is perfect for a guy whose motto is ‘Think Snow,’” Taylor said.

“It couldn’t have been more appropriate to have this snow, so this is great,” Easter said.

He said his health continues to improve in his fight against the cancer.

“I’m getting much better,” Easter said. “The doctors, every time I go just keep telling me, ‘You know, you’re way ahead of schedule from where you should be,’ so I’ve been kind of surprised. You know, I feel good.”

He said that through the chemo and radiation treatments he walked about 2 to 2.5 miles a day and is now back to walking that distance daily again.

“The day after I was operated on I was walking in the halls of the hospital, and the nurses said ‘nobody does this until after a week,’” Easter said. “But I said ‘I’ve laid in bed long enough.’”

After the ceremony, Easter went to the community’s fundraiser, “Running for Randy,” behind the high school that was emceed by Craig Zurhorst of Andover.

There, Easter met many of the 576 people of all ages who registered for a 5k (just over 3 mile) cross-country trail run and a 1-mile family fun run/walk on the paved high school track.

John Simoneau of Durham, one runner who brought his children to participate, said he grew up in Fayette and had Easter as a teacher and running and skiing coach in middle school and high school.

“Randy was a great coach, very supportive and really encouraging and a very great role model for us kids,” Simoneau said.

That’s why he said it was great that he could “give back” to Easter by participating in the fundraiser for him.

“I’m just trying to take care of a community member who did so much for so many other people,” Simoneau said. “Scary thing, cancer, and what we can do to help people and to help a friend of the family, it’s why we’re here.”

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Lewiston-Auburn