BANGOR, Maine — A memorial event honoring Don Winslow, Bangor’s late police chief, will pit area police officers against firefighters on the Bangor Waterfront next summer.
“Don Winslow is one of a kind, and we were blessed to have known him during our lifetime,” Corenna O’Brien said during an interview Sunday.
O’Brien, a friend of the Winslow family, is organizing the event, which will include a Bangor Police Department vs. Bangor Fire Department tug-of-war match, 1-mile walk, and timed 5K road race.
The event is scheduled for July 12, 2015, the Sunday closest to the anniversary of Winslow’s death. He succumbed to cancer on July 10. He was 57.
Proceeds will benefit a future public safety education fund and scholarship to help students who want to pursue degrees in criminal justice or fire science. O’Brien plans to make it an annual event.
O’Brien said it hasn’t yet been determined whether the scholarship will be available to all Maine students or just students in Penobscot County.
“He has affected people across the state of Maine,” O’Brien said.
Money raised through the event will also go to support Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to serving victims of domestic violence and abuse across the region, another cause that was important to Winslow.
Winslow started his career as a junior firefighter for the Old Town Fire Department, a job he took on while still attending Old Town High School. He became a full-time firefighter on his 19th birthday — Feb. 9, 1976.
Fighting fires was rewarding, he would later say, but it didn’t keep him busy enough, so he joined the Bangor Police Department on April 30, 1979. He worked his way up through the ranks and became chief in 1998, a position he held for eight years until he retired at the end of February 2007.
In 2010, he was diagnosed with cancer, but appeared to have beaten the disease by 2012 when doctors declared he showed “no evidence of disease.”
Earlier this year, Winslow announced plans to run for Penobscot County Sheriff, but dropped out shortly after he learned his cancer had re-emerged. He decided a few weeks before his death to stop chemotherapy treatments so he could maintain his quality of life for what time he had left.
O’Brien became close friends with Winslow and his wife, Dora, during his first cancer fight. She has organized several events to support the family, including a spaghetti supper and a flash mob performance on the Bangor Waterfront.
O’Brien posted details about her plans for the 2015 event on her Facebook page Aug. 1.
Within 24 hours, she had sponsorship offers from six organizations — Beal College, Jeff’s Catering, Blueberry Broadcasting, Townsquare Media, Machias Savings Bank and TBA Inc.
She’ll be looking for more sponsorships and volunteers as she continues to plan the details of the event, she said.
O’Brien may be reached at 207-944-4089, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I truly believe he’ll be there running with us,” O’Brien said. Though, she added, she wasn’t yet sure who Winslow would support in the tug of war.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.