It's a lofty goal.
Participants of the Nick's (S)Miles of Quarters event this weekend will attempt to collect enough quarters to span one mile in honor of Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott, a U.S. Marine from Manchester who was killed while serving in Afghanistan just over a year ago.
"We're very excited for the event and can't wait to get everyone together to celebrate Nick's life and remember our hero," said Annie Sullivan, a friend who went through middle and high school with Ott. She is helping to organize the event which kicks off at Manchester Township High School with registration at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
"We're expecting a few hundred to attend and public response has been great," Sullivan said. "We're spending the last few days tying up loose ends. We've gotten tons of great support from the Manchester community and would like to extend a thank you to any business who has stepped in to help us out."
Funds raised will go toward the Manchester Township Educational Foundation's Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott Memorial Fund, which awards money for scholarships and improvements to the high school.
Prior to the event, township officials plan to host a dedication ceremony on Colonial Drive near the entrance to the high school, across from the Wells Fargo bank, at 8 a.m. A commemorative tree and plaque have been placed at the site, and Mayor Michael Fressola and a police color guard will be on hand as the street is dedicated to Ott's memory, Chief Brian Klimakowski said.
The fundraising event, which will feature food, games and raffles, will go forward in rain or shine, though Saturday should be partly sunny sunny with a high near 77 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Each foot of quarters equals about $3, organizers figure — a mile of quarters is "a very aggressive goal," Sullivan said. If possible, organizers ask that participants convert their donations into quarters before the event.
"We have some really stellar prizes and baskets to raffle off," Sullivan said, and "there are tons of family friendly activities to keep everyone having fun."
Organizers hope the event can become an annual remembrance of Ott, who joined the Marine Corps in 2007 as an infantryman.
"We're trying to put this in place so everyone can do it every year," Sullivan told Patch last month, adding that everyone from the township's diverse demographics of families with children to seniors is encouraged to participate.
"The whole goal is to keep that smile shining," Ott's junior year English teacher Jill Ocone said about the event last month.
A Manchester Patch remembrance of Nicholas Ott on the Aug. 10 anniversary of his death can be found here.