2020 Mary’s Walk and Kerrymen 5K Moves to Virtual Event
March is always a very special time of year for Mary’s Walk Kerrymen 5K and Maine Cancer Foundation when we all come together to challenge cancer as a community. This year is no different, but today we must announce an important change to our beloved event.
At the recommendation of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), and out of an abundance of caution, the Mary’s Walk Committee has made the decision to change the 2020 Mary’s Walk and Kerrymen 5K scheduled for March 22 to a virtual event, due to the confirmation of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the state of Maine.
The Maine CDC recommendations announced yesterday include that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread. The CDC also recommends social distancing. While our event is an outdoor event, we expect over 2,000 participants in close proximity where social distancing would be difficult. In addition, we also know that COVID-19 is particularly risky for vulnerable populations, including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions, many of whom Maine Cancer Foundation serves as our mission. Our decision to transition our event is based on the intention of reducing risks to our walkers, runners, volunteers, staff, partners, spectators and the broader community.
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 22, 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 #MarysWalk2020.
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."