AVON — Mike Cooper would love nothing better than having Avon’s memorial to the Boston Marathon take over the Internet.
“How cool would that be to have Lorain County go viral?” Cooper said of the rally at 7:30 tonight at the Avon Middle School football stadium. “This is one strong town, and let’s celebrate that.”
The rally will include remarks by residents of Avon and Amherst who ran in this year’s Boston Marathon and missed the deadly explosions by a matter of minutes.
Owner-operator of Cooper Disposal, the Avon resident relocated his commercial trash-hauling company from Avon to downtown Cleveland last year for business reasons, but his heart is firmly rooted in this fast-growing city.
“I like to give back, it’s part of my nature,” Cooper said Wednesday.
He began thinking about how he could do that after watching the Boston Marathon bombings last month that took the lives of three people and injured more than 280.
“I was sitting in the kitchen having coffee with my wife when it happened, and I got to thinking about Sandy Hook and all the other things going on, and thought how easy would it be to get 400 to 500 people in the stadium, sell T-shirts and raise $15,000 to $20,000,” Cooper said.
As grandiose as the idea may have sounded, his wife told him to go for it.
So he did.
Working with Collin Henderson, an Avon High School history teacher, Cooper soon had plans under way.
“He’s a young, smart guy with a ton of energy,” Cooper said. “Without him, I could not get this deal done. I’ve been fortunate, I have lots of resources.”
He launched Cooper Disposal in Avon eight years ago with one truck. Today he operates eight vehicles that collect trash from more than 300 area commercial, industrial and manufacturing garbage bins.
The business, which also subcontracts trash-hauling services to waste-hauling firms in Ohio and elsewhere, is now up to $4 million in billings, Cooper said.
Tonight’s rally includes the city’s fire and police chiefs, several City Council members, the high school football and baseball teams and Avon Schools Superintendent Mike Laub, Cooper said.
Cooper plans to fly a check to Boston to present to groups assisting families of the bombing victims, along with a banner signed by anyone who attends the event.
The rally is expected to run until 9 or 9:30 p.m.
“We’ll hang out and sell T-shirts ($12) and luminaria ($3),” Cooper said.
More than $1,000 already has been raised from donations and sales.
“Whether it’s Boston or Chardon or Avon, the bottom line is we are one nation and these things could happen in Avon, Elyria, anywhere,” Cooper said. “We need to come together for each other.”
In the event of rain, the rally will be held indoors.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.