In 2020 Mary’s Walk and Kerrymen 5K made the difficult decision in response to COVID-19 to take the event VIRTUAL. As the first fundraiser in the state to make this shift, we learned that support for Mary’s Walk is deep-rooted and that Mainers recognize fighting cancer is more important than ever with the unexpected burden of a pandemic. For the 23rd consecutive Mary’s Walk, we are confidently going VIRTUAL again recognizing that cancer patients and families still need our support.
Our first virtual event attracted hundreds of people throughout the state and New England walking and running to support Mary’s Walk and the Maine Cancer Foundation. We raised $170,000 to fight cancer and increased our 22-year total to $3.6 million. With your support, we hope to continue our success for our 23rd event on March 21, 2021. Mary’s Walk raises funds for Maine Cancer Foundation and their mission to target cancer prevention, early detection, access to care, and scientific research that can improve patient outcomes.
Mary’s Walk remembers Mary Kerry Libby who passed away from Burkett’s Lymphoma on March 7, 1997. Her memory keeps our hope alive. Join us in 2021 VIRTUALLY to make a difference for the people of Maine and bring hope to thousands of Maine families.
Cancer has never stopped us from this amazing event, nor will Coronavirus. While it is unfortunate that we will be unable to proceed in the manner that our event participants have come to expect, we are rapidly developing the virtual event details so please hold the date to participate safely and virtually on Sunday, March 21, by walking or running on your own (in your neighborhood, on a treadmill, etc.) and posting pictures/video of your walk or run on social media tagging @MarysWalk – Fighting Cancer With Each Step We Take (Facebook), maryswalk_me (Instagram) and #MarysWalk2021.
We appreciate your understanding of the need to make this difficult decision. We look forward to gathering together next year as we’ve done for the last 22 years.
For more information and resources regarding COVID-19 and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones, please visit https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml.
About Maine Cancer Foundation:
is dedicated to reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates in Maine. 100% of funds raised by the Foundation are used to benefit the people of Maine. We lead a state-wide effort to advance the most promising and effective cancer-fighting efforts available to the people of Maine through a combination of grant-based financial support and coalition building. Learn more at
Mary's Walk began in 1999 as a way to remember and honor Mary Kerry Libby, a much-loved member of the Saco-Biddeford community, who passed away from Burkitt's Lymphoma March 7, 1997. Twenty-two years later, Mary's Walk and its companion run, the Kerrymen 5k, have raised over $3,490,000 for the people of Maine and is now one of the largest cancer foundations of its kind. Mary's Walk, a non-profit charity, donates all proceeds to the Maine Cancer Foundation, a state-wide organization focusing on early detection, access to care, and research that support cancer patients and their families.
In an all too familiar story, Mary was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma July 5, 1996. After a courageous 8-month struggle, Mary lost her fight with cancer. She was 46 years old, leaving behind 4 beautiful children – Jessica, Katie, Matthew, and Lindsay. An avid walker, Mary was well-known in the community for her friendly smile, gracious charm, and kindness. The walk route, commencing at Thornton Academy, traces a portion of the exact route Mary walked almost daily.
Mary's Walk celebrates community and the individual spirit who, like Mary, quietly labor, love, and lead others in the fight against cancer. Each Mary's Walk we renew our commitment to life, to each other, and to the common struggle against cancer.
Mary's Walk is about making a difference at the community level in the fight against cancer. Our moniker "Making a difference is just a short walk away" reminds us that we can all make a difference in the fight against cancer by contributing to cancer care and research.
KERRYMEN 5k – Maine State 5k Championship
The companion Kerrymen 5k is a USA track and field certified 5k course. In 2019, the road race was designated by the Road Runner Club of America as the Maine State 5k Championship. Up to 1,000 runners participate annually.
ONE MILE DEDICATION
In October 2013, the City of Saco dedicated a bronze plaque at the 1-mile mark of the Kerrymen 5k. The plaque reads:
In memory of Mary Kerry Libby (1951-1997) and all those lost to cancer. With the commitment of volunteers and support of the City of Saco millions of dollars have been raised for cancer research for the people of Maine.
EASTERN TRAIL DEDICATION – MARY'S WALK
On August 9, 2014, the City of Saco dedicated a portion of the Eastern Trail bordering Thornton Academy as Mary's Walk. The dedication plaque reads:
A 1970 Thornton Academy graduate, Mary, a mother of four children, was lost to cancer at the age of 46. Her indomitable spirit, friendly smile and joy of life inspired Mary's Walk, an all volunteer charitable walk / run founded in Saco in 1999 that has raised millions for cancer research for the people of Maine. Her strength of spirit and gentle soul continue to inspire good works for many.
Donald E. Pilon, Mayor
One of the signature events of Mary's Walk Celebration of Life is the opening ceremony. Annually, the State's governor, beginning with Governor John Baldacci and continuing with Governor Lepage and present governor Janet Mills, has welcomed participants at the annual event.
WHAT DOES 'SLANCHA' MEAN?
In 1995, Mary and her husband Gene celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. A proud Irish woman, Mary wanted a vanity plate with the Irish toast "Slainte" to recognize her Irish roots. The Gaelic term "Slainte" has various interpretations, but generally is used as a common toast meaning "to your health." Unfortunately, the correct spelling of the Gaelic term Slainte was already assigned so Mary adopted the phonetic spelling of "Slancha." Whether spelled correctly or phonetically, it has the same meaning – "to your health" or "good health."