Milton's life is celebrated through two passions: motorcycles and sports

Groton — The passage from Romans 8:28 reads, "All things work together for good." It's just that sometimes, we fail to grasp the concept that even tragedy can beget goodness.

This is the foundation of "Big Red Motorcycle Run," in memory of and in tribute to the late Cory Milton, a former football player at Fitch, whose death at a young age has become a lifeline for young athletes in need throughout the region.

The 12th rendition of the Big Red Run will begin at noon next Sunday at Smokey O'Grady's in East Lyme and vroom-vroom its way eventually to the Brown Derby in Montville. All proceeds and donations will affect the tentacles of youth sports, from teams in need of sponsorship money, kids in need of registration money as well as equipment. This spring alone, the Big Red Run helped 12 kids in the region with registration fees and sponsored a baseball team.

Then there's the chance to win a little money, too. The run will be done "poker" style, meaning there are various checkpoints between Smokey's and the Brown Derby for riders to draw a card. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run.

"Growing up, we never had the best equipment playing youth sports. I had friends that struggled paying registration fees or getting cleats," said Ryan Milton, Cory's older brother, also a former player at Fitch. "Kids and parents struggled with that. I still see that with my son involved in sports. So, this is a great way to help."

Cory Milton played during coach Jim Buonocore's time at Fitch. He was a mountainous lineman with red hair, but very much the gentle giant. He always had a thing for motorcycles and decided his career path would be to fix them. He hurt his thumb while attending school in West Hartford one night and was driving home for a doctor visit. He never made it. He died in an automobile collision.

"People started giving us money and doing whatever they could for us, but we really didn't need it," said Kelly Milton, Cory's mother and the heartbeat of the whole idea. "So, we decided to take it and start the foundation. Cory really enjoyed playing sports and helping kids. That's where we thought it would help the most."

Last year, 275 riders partook of a truly fun day, raising $11,000. The Miltons said the foundation has been blessed with donations from Chelsea Groton Bank, the two local Walmarts and other charitable organizations. Their benevolence has helped the foundation affect the lives of more than 700 kids over the years. Donations are welcome at any time.

Turns out Cory Milton has accomplished more in death than many of us do in life. And while there are days, most or all of them, perhaps, that the Miltons may try to explain the unexplainable — why was Cory taken so soon? — their effort and their love has made our corner of the world a better place.

It is the very definition of Romans 8:28: All things work together for good.

There is still time to register, either by calling (860) 445-0029 or visiting BigRedBikeRun.com. There's the poker option, much camaraderie, a great cause and then there's this: It's hard not to have fun at Smokey's or the Derby anyway.

"Cory always wanted to be a motorcycle mechanic," Ryan Milton said. "He'd always joke that one day, we'd all be working for him. I guess in a way we are."

They're working for many kids throughout our region, too. Just the way Cory would have drawn it up.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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