SCHENECTADY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – While runners got their final preparations in before this year’s Miles on the Mohawk run, Mike Newhouse was gearing up. The representative from Flags 4 Fallen donned fire gear to run in memory of a West Crescent firefighter who passed away in 2020.
“We’re going to bring awareness to all the fallen firefighters,” he explained before hitting the course.
Newhouse donned Donovan Ayotte’s turnout gear in his memory, including his helmet, setting off on a 10-mile journey through Schenectady County, “I can tell you that I have a whole new respect for all firemen who go into burning houses and rescue people with this type of stuff on, and I don’t even have the tank on.”
Ayotte was captain of the West Crescent Fire Department. He passed away in 2020 at 24-years-old. By wearing his gear and carrying a flag, Newhouse hoped to bring more awareness to his life.
“Today isn’t about a sad day. Today is about remembrance and that’s what we’re going to do today. I can guarantee you that after 10 miles, a lot of people are going to know who Donovan Ayotte is,” he explained.
All along the course, Newhouse made sure a lot of people would know, stopping several times to talk to people about the person he was running for.
After 10 hard miles on a humid, sunny morning, Newhouse neared the finish line in Schenectady about two hours after setting off, taking a moment to salute a Schenectady fire truck displaying an American flag before crossing and meeting with Donovan’s family.
“He battled the heat and it started off cool for him, then the heat got on. Talking to him, he got overheated and stuff but he stayed cool and calm and continued for a good cause,” said Dennis Ayotte, Donovan’s dad.
Ayotte, who is a high school friend of Newhouse, is thankful for the special way his son was remembered, “He touched a lot of people’s hearts that we did not even know until the loss of him. He was that well-liked and spoken of,” he said.
Both Ayotte and Newhouse are sure Donovan was there to help Mike get through those 10 miles and cross the finish line.