Statue of marathoner John Kelley to be unveiled Sept. 21 in Mystic

Mystic - A life-size bronze statue of late Boston Marathon winner John Kelley and his dog Brutus will be unveiled at a Sept. 21 ceremony that will be attended by four former Boston Marathon champions.

Kelley, the two-time Olympian who won Boston in 1957 and went on to teach and coach at Robert E. Fitch High School, died in 2011 at age 80.

The statue will be located in the small park at the corner of West Main and Bank streets.

"Johnny would run right by there, almost every day," said Jim Roy, who heads the John Kelley Memorial Fund, the nonprofit organization that raised $87,000 for the statue.

"So many people remember the two of them running together, we felt it was a perfect reminder and wonderful tribute," said Roy in a statement announcing the ceremony.

He said the statue, called "Fast Friends," perfectly captures Kelley's boyish spirit.

"It's our hope that this statue will inspire all who see it, runner and non-runner alike, to achieve their full potential and follow their dreams," he said.

Expected to attend the ceremony, which is open to the public, are 1968 champion Amby Burfoot of Mystic, who was coached by Kelley, four-time champion Bill Rodgers, two-time champion Geoff Smith and 1976 champion Jack Fultz.

Representatives of the Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the Marathon and whose team Kelley ran for, also plan to attend. The BAA and numerous organizations and individuals supported the statue project.

"Johnny was such a beloved figure, so many people were extraordinarily generous," Roy said.

He said the memorial fund will continue to raise money to establish scholarships in Kelley's name.

More information is available at www.johnkelley.org.

- Joe Wojtas

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