OR Community comes out to support Mark Milliken’s Stepping Strong fundraiser

On Friday, January 17th, dozens of current and former Oyster River High School (ORHS) students crowded into The Stone Church Music Club in downtown Newmarket to see Junction perform and support Mark Milliken. 

Milliken, the Dean of Faculty at ORHS, is raising money for Stepping Strong so that he can run the Boston Marathon. After Junction’s performance, Milliken closed the evening with a performance of his own with the help of Patty Anderson (‘19) and Jake Kaplan (‘18). The owners of The Stone Church, Cheryl and Mark Hoffman, donated all of the proceeds from the more than 90 tickets sold toward Miliken’s fundraising total for Stepping Strong. Between the raffle and ticket sales, the event raised over $1,500 which will go toward Milliken’s $7,500 fundraising goal.

Weggy and Liam
Jake Weglarz (’18) and Colin Flores (’20), two members of Junction during the performance.

Stepping Strong is a charity that created and supports the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center at Brigham Women’s Hospital that funds trauma research and recovery. It was created in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing where Gillian Reny, a victim of the attack, suffered life-threatening injuries and survived. Milliken said he was drawn to the charity because his own daughter suffered a traumatic arm injury that later inspired her to become a medical professional.

Stepping Strong may be a great cause, but the event’s success was really a testament to the positive impact Milliken has had on the community. Hannah Jane Wilson (‘18) came to support Milliken because, “he was just a really positive, charismatic person who never failed to brighten my day with floral Fridays, flannel Fridays, and just a really positive outlook on life.”

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Milliken with Patty Anderson (’19)

Ian Cummings (‘20), like many other students, said he came to support Milliken for a similar reason to Wilson. He said, “from what I’ve seen it’s been mainly kids that have already graduated coming back because they love him so much.”

Milliken spoke to the community support on his journey. “People have really been supportive and been asking me about it and been saying they want to take the day from school and come watch. It’s been very rewarding.”

Cummings said of attendance at the event, “there’s a lot of people here.  It would be more but I think the basketball game did affect the attendance.” The event was originally scheduled for December 30th but was rescheduled due to a snowstorm.

The event wasn’t entirely students; Wilson said, “it seems to be a good mix of students who want to support Mr. Milliken and, what I assume to be, his friends and other supporters.” Milliken’s family and friends also came out to support him, including his wife, Barb Milliken, a French teacher at ORHS, and their two daughters, Aimee and Tess.

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Aimee and Tess Milliken, shown here with their significant others.


Milliken said his family has been supporting him from the beginning. “It’s really been a family event,” he said.

Lynne and Brian Knox are long-time friends of the Millikens who drove down from Alton, New Hampshire to support Milliken. Lynne Knox said, “we’re just so proud of him and happy for him.” She mentioned that they planned to make an effort to go to the marathon this year. 

Lynne Knox was impressed with the support but unsurprised. She said, “they’re so well respected and so well-liked, and really it’s been a great journey.”

Travis Gibson, the husband of Aimee Milliken, said he’d never had a positive relationship with his teachers like ORHS students have with the Millikens. “They just have a really nice relationship with their students. It’s a very supportive group.”

Milliken said that the team raising money for Stepping Strong has raised over half a million dollars and he’s more than three-quarters of the way to his personal $7,500 fundraising goal.