Windsor swimmers support ‘Trees of Honor’ project

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Tue., Nov. 26, 2013
The Windsor High School girls’ swimming and diving team is receiving accolades for its effort to raise funds for the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

When Windsor High School teams score goals, make touchdowns and garner points, the community is naturally proud of them. But, when Windsor athletes go a step further and work as a team to serve their communities, they deserve extra praise.

“Every year, Chris [Todd] and I try to do some sort of service project with the girls,” said head swimming and diving coach Erika Fangiullo. “As coaches, we feel it’s important for the girls to get a greater understanding of their civic responsibility as representatives of Windsor High and the girls’ swimming and diving team.”

This year, the girls decided to raise awareness and funding for the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial, which is to be built in Middletown, Conn. They walked the ING Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon on Oct. 12 and raised $500.

Trees of Honor founder Sue Martucci was proud of the girls, and said that they were the “only school that participated to run on ‘our’ team – Run to Honor Their Sacrifice,” said Martucci.

Fangiullo feels that participating in an event like this helps the girls give back to a worthwhile cause.  Assistant coach Christopher Todd agreed and said Martucci approached him to have the girls participate last year when she had read a newspaper article about Todd’s new social studies course on U.S. military history. “Erika and I presented the idea to the girls and they jumped [at it],” Todd said. “We had 14 members plus coaches run the 5K, but every girl on the team participated to raise the $500.”

Notable fundraisers were Zaria Walker, Sumner Lewis and Emma Gudrian.

The Windsor girls’ swim team this year had a good season despite graduating a good portion of its seniors last year.

“The girls had a strong finish to the season, finishing with an 8-5 overall record, second in the CCC East and 16th overall in the Class M state finals,” said Todd.

Sierra Taylor finished eighth overall in the diving state finals, Kelsey Jepsen finished 14th in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 Fly, breaking a 13-year Windsor High School record.

Also on the state swimming team were (captain) Kelsey Jepsen, (captain) Rebecca Nelson, (captain) Zaria Walker, Sierra Taylor, Emma Gudrian, Valerie Diehl, Charlotte Friedrich, Ellie Moore and Catia Matias.

The Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial is to be located at Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown, Conn. Each soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a tree planted in his/her honor. The memorial is composed of two unique sculptures and a ring of 65 trees with sitting areas. Each tree is dedicated to a fallen hero, with a granite plaque engraved with a photo.

“Due to plans by the city to totally renovate and add new features to Veterans Memorial Park, our committee was held back from beginning construction this fall,” explained Martucci. “We are going to begin digging the reflecting pond and installing the 65 flowering trees and granite posts and plaques in spring 2014.”

For more information about the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial or to donate to the cause, visit the website

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