Cumberland to host 13th Safe Passage fundraiser

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CUMBERLAND — The 13th annual Safe Passage Maine 5K and Fiesta, a fundraiser for the Safe Passage program, will be held at Greely High School on Sunday, May 7.

Like last year, the event will be Latin-themed, with a party following the 5K and children’s run.

Registration, which takes place from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. at the 303 Main St. school, can be done through safe-passage-maine-5k.everydayhero.do.

The 5K starts at 3 p.m., followed by the children’s run at 3:40 p.m. The fiesta, with live music by Latino band Dos Canosos y Un Joven, starts at 3:30 p.m. and an awards assembly will be held at 4:15 p.m.

Ann Dillon of North Yarmouth, a veteran triathlete who became race director last year, noted that the 5K serves as a prime way “for serious runners to get their base pace for the season. Our new format of an afternoon run followed by a fiesta including a nachos bar has attracted not only sub 5 runners, but also many families with parents running with kids.”

Registration for adults costs $20 in advance, or $25 on race day, $8 and $10 respectively for students, and $45 and $60 for families of two adults and two children younger than 18. Families can use the code “familyfun” to receive a discount.

Participants and visitors alike are asked to raise funds to benefit Guatemala City-based Safe Passage programs. Registration is free for those who raise at least $100.

Yarmouth native Hanley Denning founded Safe Passage to educate children who live around a Central American garbage dump.

A 1988 Greely graduate, Denning found her life changed after traveling to Guatemala in 1997 to learn Spanish. Visiting the slums around the Guatemala City garbage dump, she was inspired to start Safe Passage as a way to help the children forge a life beyond the poverty into which they were born.

Doug Pride, a math teacher at Greely High who ran with Denning while she was a student, became inspired to start the 5K after visiting her in Guatemala in 2004.

Denning died in 2007, at the age of 36, in a motor vehicle accident in Guatemala.

Safe Passage now provides education, social services and other opportunities to more than 550 children and 100 parents, according to safepassage.org.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The 13th annual Safe Passage 5K and Fiesta fundraiser will be held in Cumberland Sunday, May 7. This photo is from last year’s event. (Lauren Lear)

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.