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Mary’s Walk is back. Just repeating these four short words brings a smile to our faces, and memories from more than two decades fill our heads and hearts. There have been years of rain, snow, wind, and a pandemic, but through it all, we have been together: the walkers, the runners, the survivors, the friends, the students, and the families.

This year, the event will be different.  This year will be the last year that the walk will follow Mary's original route as she traveled through the downtown area, and only the walk will take place on March 19, 2023. We are retiring the Kerrymen 5K run.

The amount of gratitude we feel as we think about what we have accomplished is overwhelming, but with the closing of the pub and safety and logistical concerns about holding a walk and run at the same time, we realize that we can no longer hold both events at the same time. Facing this decision, we chose to focus on Mary and the walk.

More information will come, and we hope you will join us again on March 19, 2023, at 12 p.m. to make this the best Mary’s walk yet. 

We look forward to seeing everyone and continuing our work together to help fight cancer in Maine.

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About Maine Cancer Foundation:

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 https://mainecancer.org 

History

            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

STATE-WIDE RECOGNITION

            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."

 

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