SALISBURY -- A bitterly cold November morning couldn’t stop over 175 runners from taking to the streets of Salisbury Saturday in honor of fallen firefighter Tim Oliveira.
“He would be overwhelmed,” nine-year Salisbury Firefighter John Condelli said of his lieutenant and friend who died in a work-related accident in 2011. “I don’t think he would like all the attention. But if it was someone else’s race, he would be here supporting them.”
The runners Saturday were supporting the Timothy J. Oliveira Memorial Fund by running the third annual Timmy Trot 5K Run and Walk, including fellow firefighters from Newburyport, Amesbury, Georgetown, Gloucester, Lynn and even Chelsea among other fire departments.
“I think it is really important to remember everything that Timmy did for this town and this community,” said race organizer and Oliveira’s niece, Julie Souliotis. “It’s a really good thing for the Oliveira and Souliotis families to remember him. It’s good for the healing process after everything that happened.”
Recently incorporated, the Memorial Fund raises money for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and also assists the Pettengill House Holiday Fund.
A popular person in the Salisbury before he passed away, Oliveira was known for his many “Timmy-isms.”
“If you were to tell Timmy that you were going to have a race in his honor,” said Condelli. “He’d say, ‘Ahhhhhhh... I don’t think so.’ And that’s a common phrase around here. Any time we have to do something that we don’t want to, we’ll say that. And we all get a kick out of it. People say that all the time, to quote him.”
Chelsea Fire Department mechanic Marc Elbin ran his first Timmy Trot in full turnout gear to make a statement of his own.
“Timmy was the mechanic in Salisbury, and it’s kind of a solidarity thing,” said Elbin. “It’s cold enough so that, if there was ever a time to do it, it was the time.”
Chris Kealey, 46, of Newburyport placed first in the men’s division with a time of 17:23, and fellow Porter Kelly Bradbury (also 46) took first for the women at 20:12.
Amesbury High School cross-country captain James Worthen, 18, only heard about the race on Friday but still finished second with a time of 18:17. Fellow Amesbury resident Keith LeBlanc, 35, was third at 18:23. Simonetta Piergenti, 49, of Wilmington was second for the woman at 20:18 and Christin Pantazelos, 27, of Abington was third with a time of 23:05.
Georgetown’s Tom Mulligan, 18, finished first for the firefighters at 19:45.
“I had a tough day personally,” said Mulligan. “Not my best by far, but doing it for the Fire Department is a great thing.”
Greg Brown, 33, of Salisbury was on his third Timmy Trot. He went to school with Oliveira’s daughter, Nicole, and was happy to help his classmate out in the chilly conditions.
“I’d say the (cold) doesn’t help you out, but it doesn’t hurt you, either,” said Brown. “Once it gets really cold, it hurts. But I love the firefighters. They are all good people.”
Moriah Lucey, 40, of Newburyport was running along with her husband, Tom, of the Newburyport Fire Department.
“I think everyone was in a great mood,” Lucey said. “It was a fun race. Everyone was into it and had a great time.”
With plans for the fourth annual Timmy Trot already underway, the Salisbury Fire Department is making sure Oliveira’s memory lives on for a long time.
“No matter what happened, if it was something going wrong and whether it was funny or not a good thing, at the end of the day, (Oliveira) would leave and say, ‘Tomorrow is a new day,’” said Condelli. “He’d say it with his little grin and arch his mustache, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’ That was his way of joking that you could look at it in one of two ways. You could either see it as, tomorrow we’ll start over or, it’s just going to be the same nonsense.”