SCHENECTADY COUNTY, NY (NEWS10) – As runners made their final preparations ahead of this year’s Miles on the Mohawk race, Mike Newhouse prepared. The Flags 4 Fallen rep donned firefighter gear to run in memory of a West Crescent firefighter who died in 2020.
“We will educate all fallen firefighters,” he explained before starting the course.
Newhouse donned Donovan Ayotte’s memorial turnout gear, including his helmet, as he set off on a 10-mile trip through Schenectady County, “I can tell you I have a whole new respect for all firefighters going into burning houses and saving people with that stuff, and I don’t even have the tank.
Ayotte was captain of the West Crescent Fire Department. He died in 2020 at age 24. By wearing his gear and carrying a flag, Newhouse hoped to bring more awareness to his life.
“Today is not a sad day. Today is about commemoration and that is what we are going to do today. I can guarantee you that after 10 miles a lot of people will know who Donovan Ayotte is,” he explained.
Along the way, Newhouse made sure a lot of people would know, stopping several times to tell people about who he was running for.
After a challenging 10 kilometers on a wet, sunny morning, Newhouse approached the finish line in Schenectady about two hours after the start, taking a moment to wave to a Schenectady fire truck displaying an American flag before crossing and meet Donovan’s family.
“He battled the heat and it started out cool for him and then the heat came up. Talking to him, he got heated and everything, but he stayed cool and calm and kept going for a good cause,” said Dennis Ayotte, Donovan’s father.
Ayotte, who is a high school friend of Newhouse’s, is grateful for the special way her son is remembered: “He touched the hearts of a lot of people we didn’t even know until his loss. He was highly regarded and talked about,” he said.
Ayotte and Newhouse are sure Donovan was there to help Mike get through those 10 miles and across the finish line.