New Kelly Ledoux-Walsh trail honors one of Wakefield’s best

Oct 10, 2019 by

Published in the October 10, 2019 edition.

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — For a time, you’re not behind Wakefield Memorial High School; not in between Hemlock and Wiley. And no, you’re not in a swamp anymore – in an uninhabited part of the town and the school’s grounds. You’re on the Kelly Ledoux-Walsh Trail, named fittingly for one of Wakefield’s best.

On Monday, the Warrior cross country teams held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open Kelly’s Trail before Wakefield raced Burlington.

The trail is a new part of the cross country course. It’s about a quarter-mile long through the woods just north of Hemlock Road.

Kelly Ledoux-Walsh, a 2014 graduate of Wakefield High, was one of the best cross country and track athletes in the history of the school. She was a four-time league All-Star and team MVP three times.

Yet for all the accolades and success, it’s Kelly’s spirit, her leadership and what she meant to so many people that the Wakefield cross country program wants every runner to emulate.

“Kelly’s spirit, strength and courage was untouched by anyone,” said girls’ cross country head coach Karen Barrett. “I can only hope that the kids who compete on this trail understand (who Kelly was) and fight and run as hard as they possibly can because that’s what she did every single day.

“Because of her spirit and the type of person she was to all of us, this trail is an amazing way to keep her memory in our hearts because she deserves a place there.”

Karen’s husband Chris, who helped get the project on its feet, called it “a great community achievement.”

From the Conservation Commission, to town engineer Bill Renault, to the Barretts walking through what used to be a forgotten swamp and spray-painting their course, to local companies like Keith’s Tree Service, Purcell Fencing and Batten Sign and all the many volunteers. Community achievement is the perfect description.

Keith’s Tree, led by Keith Brennan, cleared the path and put in endless hours of commitment to create Kelly’s Trail. In case you were wondering, turning a tree-covered swamp into a trail for athletic competition is not easy.

“Keith’s Tree did an extraordinary job,” said Chris Barrett. “Like so many things, it is so easy to say ‘Oh yeah, let’s just cut a trail.’ We know how much work it was and it is really extraordinary.”

“The Barretts called me to tell us it might be happening and I said, ‘When it happens let us know,’” said Brennan. “They marked it, we cleared it and put some wood chips down and did some stump grinding. It looks good especially for what it was before.”

That’s an understatement. The scenery of the trail looks much better than good; the evidence of the care and effort of so many people, is, well, evident.

“We can’t believe this happened with how much effort and time went into this,” said Kelly’s father Sean. “Every weekend I’d come up here, Keith’s Tree Service was up here, Chris Barrett, Karen Barrett, everybody. We can’t thank enough people. All the hard work that went into getting this accomplished, it’s amazing. It means the world to us.”

Fitting, for what Kelly means to Wakefield.

“Kelly was an amazing person,” said Karen Barrett. “She was a phenomenal leader on and off the track and cross country course.  I admired her bravery, courage and work ethic. Most of all, I loved the fabulous person she was with the biggest, brightest smile and the nicest heart you could ever ask for.”

The Warriors made sure their first race on Kelly’s Trail was a good one.

The girls beat Burlington 15-41 for their second victory of the season.

Elina Olmedo took first overall in 19:31.

“Congratulations to Elina Olmedo for winning her first cross country meet on such a special day. She is running really well, I am extremely proud of her,” coach Barrett said.

Sammy Seabury and Olivia Lucey both crossed the line together at 19:46 to complete the top three sweep.

Wakefield also took fourth and fifth with Grace Butler (19:52) and Devon Jellison (19:58).

Madison Nett and Retta Carroll finished up the scoring for the Warriors.

“I was happy with the team win and the amazing effort put forth by the community to have such a meaningful celebration for Kelly,” said Barrett.

On that new trail, hopefully the Warriors took a second to think about how they too can positively impact the community, just like Kelly Ledoux-Walsh, and just like everyone who came together to create this tribute that will last forever.

“We just want to thank everybody for everything,” said Kelly’s mother Kathy. “Kelly would have loved it.”

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