CUMBERLAND — Fifteen years after a Yarmouth native founded a program to bring education and hope to children living around a Central American garbage dump, Greely High School continues to be among those raising funds for the continued success of Safe Passage.
The 10th annual Safe Passage Esperanza 5K will be held at the 303 Main St. school from 8-10 a.m. Sunday, May 4.
“We’re just looking for people to come out and support Safe Passage,” Dave Holman, the organization’s outreach and communications coordinator, said April 24. “It should be a great day for a race.”
The event was started by Hanley Denning, a 1988 Greely graduate whose life changed after traveling to Guatemala in 1997 to learn Spanish. Visiting the slums around the Guatemala City garbage dump, she was inspired to found Safe Passage as way to help the native children forge a life far beyond the poverty of their birth.
It was in Guatemala in 2007 where Denning died at the age of 36 in a motor vehicle accident. But her dream, and the mission of Safe Passage, continue to thrive as the organization grows and more lives are touched.
Safe Passage now provides about 550 children with education and social services, according to safepassage.org.
“We’re carrying on the race in her memory,” Holman said.
The race (esperanza is Spanish for “hope”) will run along Main Street toward North Yarmouth, down Greely Road, and then loop back toward the high school. The course is mostly flat, with only one hill, and a water stop and musicians along the way.
Erica Jesseman of Scarborough and Byrne Decker of Yarmouth, the top runners from Maine in this year’s Boston Marathon, will serve as the event’s emcees.
The event includes a kids fun run and offers more than 50 prizes.
Registration is $19 before race day, and $20 at the event, from 6:30-7:45 a.m. Students pay $5. Registration is available online at safepassage.org/5k.