SACO, Maine — Despite the cold weather, a few thousand people came out Sunday to participate in the 20th Annual Mary’s Walk and the Kerrymen Pub 5K to raise money for the Maine Cancer Foundation.
Mary’s Walk founder Gene Libby attributed it to “Mary’s magic.”
Libby’s late wife, Mary Kerry Libby, died from Burkitt’s Lymphoma in 1997. Mary’s Walk pays tribute to Mary, a beloved member of the community.
“Mary was a simple person who radiated warmth and genuineness to those she met. You always knew that you had her attention and you had her affection,” said Libby at a ceremony held at Thornton Academy’s Linnell Gym, held before the 12:15 p.m. start of the walk, which began at the school. The Kerrymen Pub 5K race took off at noon at the Kerrymen Pub.
Since its inception, Mary’s Walk has raised more than $3 million for the Maine Cancer Society, which funds research and programs in the state of Maine. Sunday’s event raised more than $270,000.
“It’s amazing,” said Maine Cancer Foundation Executive Director Tara Hill. She said the event was unique, even after all these years, it continues to draw a huge amount of community support and enthusiasm.
“Many families including my own owe a lot to the planning, development and execution of fundraising events and Mary’s Walk is the gold standard for those events,” said Saco Mayor Marston Lovell.
District 31 State Senator Justin Chenette, D-Saco, representing Hollis, Limington, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and part of Buxton, presented Libby with a legislative sentiment.
“Every year like clock-work, there is an event that unites us. It brings people of all walks of life literally together for something much bigger than ourselves individually; a true collective conscious,” said Chenette.
Long-time Mary’s Walk committee member Ken Janson spoke about his journey with esophageal cancer. He said as part of his recovery and to maintain health, he began a daily routine of walking. He said as he started his daily walks, he thought of Mary Kerry Libby, who also was an avid walker, and he thought of Mary’s Walk.
“Let’s go for a walk today, and again tomorrow, and the day after,” he said.
He urged people to continue the practice of walking, and to wear their Mary’s Walk shirts while doing so.