More than $17,000 was raised in a weekend event to benefit the Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott Memorial Fund, even organizers announced.
The money raised during the Nick's (S)Miles of Quarters benefit held Saturday at Manchester Township High School in honor of the township's U.S. Marine killed while serving in Afghanistan last year at age 23 will go toward a memorial fund established in his name by the Manchester Township Educational Foundation.
"Our goal was a mile, which translates into $15,840, and we exceeded it," said Annie Sullivan, an event organizer who was friends with Ott as they went through school together in Manchester.
"It felt absolutely amazing to have people come from all over and join together for this cause. It exceeded all of my expectations," said event organizer Heather Barrett.
The big turnout showed "how loved Nick really was," Barrett said.
"He touched every person he ever came in contact with in one way or another and no one could ever forget that smile of his. Manchester pulled together as a whole a little over a year ago when he was taken from us and they showed us this past weekend it's not only in tragedy they can pull together but in celebration of remembrance as well."
Organizers said that they were looking for a unique way to represent the funds raised in honor of the 2006 MTHS graduate, so donations were made in quarters to be placed around the school's track.
Barrett said that next year organizers hope to double the number of attendees and the fundraising goal.
At their regular meeting Monday evening, members of Manchester's Township Council spoke about the Saturday events to honor Ott, which also included a dedication of Colonial Drive in his name — complete with a plaque and tree — prior to the fundraiser.
"It was a very fitting honor for a young man who gave his life for what he believed in," said Council President Craig Wallis, who thanked all those who participated in the day's events including police, administrators and public works.
"It was a tremendous turnout," said Councilmember Samuel Fusaro. "It was truly a very solemn, proper event, and I think the family was quite happy with the sharing in grief with the town. Obviously, it was a tragedy."
"It was a stirring event, I was very happy I was able to attend," Councilmember Warren Reiter said.
Photos from both the dedication ceremony and fundraiser are available in this Manchester Patch article.