Erin Wooley was a student of mine during her senior year in high school, and she was a stand out swimmer on the girls swim team during the years I worked as assistant coach.
Because of the swim team/ classroom combination, I spent a lot of time with Erin and got to know her well. She also quickly became one of the kids who sought me out for boyfriend advice and friend advice and overall friendship. Erin was fierce and determined with a work ethic that rose above that of her peers; she was a distance freestyler and a butterflier, and she would work so hard at practice that her face would radiate with heat when she got out of the pool. She also had an artistic and poetic streak, an impish smile and contagious laugh, and was unafraid to speak her mind, especially about women's rights. Erin was one of my special girls, and I knew when I hugged her at graduation, that we would keep in touch.
We did keep in touch, including corresponding frequently through Erin's UMaine years, and decision to get her law degree at Vermont School of Law, and then through her brave battle with lymphoma, the same disease my father had. You may remember that I had Erin's name on my shirt when I ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.
Erin died after complications from the stem-cell transplant that had everyone so hopeful she had beaten cancer. She was 26.
I still have some of Erin's poems in my creative writing binder, some of which have her handwriting on them. I remember Erin so fondly that I can still hear voice and imagine her laughter in the hallway outside my room. And I am still haunted by the image of her mother, at the burial, stroking Erin's coffin before walking away, as if smoothing the covers on her daughter for the last time. I seriously almost fainted from being in the presence of that level of grief. It is true that the brightest stars burn out the fastest.
In honor of Erin's life and all the amazing things she did and was planning to do, a group of good folks, headed up by my friend Ben, a classmate of Erin's, have organized a 5K run and walk in Bangor.
Erin's Run: Saturday, April 27th at 10 am at the Bangor Waterfront.
One of the two beneficiaries of Erin’s Run is Spruce Run, an organization dedicated to serving those affected by domestic abuse. Erin worked at Spruce Run as an advocate for women and at the time of her passing, she was enrolled at the University of Vermont Law School with the goal of being a family attorney in order to continue her advocacy work.
The second beneficiary of Erin’s Run is a scholarship set up through the University of Maine Athletic Boosters. The Erin M. Woolley Scholarship Fund is an award given annually to an underclassman member of Maine swimming and diving that best embodies the contributions of dedication, spirit, and spunk that Erin made to the program.
Locals, please consider joining us for this run or walk. Because it is the inaugural event, we need a good showing of participants. You can register HERE. Please follow Erin's Run on facebook, and get more race-day details on the race website
We hope to see you there!