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Friends keep Haley's headstrong legacy alive

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Friends keep Haley's headstrong legacy alive

NEW GLOUCESTER — A sea of navy blue t-shirts took over the grounds of Pineland Farms last Saturday as the boisterous members of Team Headstrong dominated the seventh-annual Fight Back Festival.

Team Headstrong was founded in 2010 by Tim Haley, the late owner of Haley's Tire & Service Centers of Falmouth, after he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2009.

Before his death in February, Haley said he was inspired by his doctor's advice to start exercising and took that advice and participated in the PanMass Challenge, a 192-mile bike ride across Massachusetts to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“He participated in (the PanMass Challenge) the first year that he had been diagnosed with cancer because he needed to exercise, which he did full-strength ahead,” said Haley's mother, MaryEileen Haley of Falmouth.

Haley's wife, Kimberly, said that riding in the PanMass Challenge gave the South Portland resident something positive to focus on at a time when he could have shut down.

“It really saved him,” she said. “It gave him something positive to think about and do, and that's when he came up with the (team) name. He was known for having a big head and being very stubborn.”

Haley's work as a small business owner inspired him to give back to a local cancer organization and got him involved with the Cancer Community Center's Fight Back Festival. The festival includes 10-, 25- and 60-mile bike rides, 5k and 10k races and a mile walk.

Last year was the first year that Haley's team participated in the Fight Back Festival at Pineland and a huge group of his fraternity brothers and friends joined together to raise funds for the center. Even while undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Maine Medical Center, Haley took part in the Fight Back Festival's 60-mile bike ride.

Haley said he wanted his legacy to be local, and fundraising for the Fight Back Festival was one way that he wanted his family and friends to continue to give back.

“He said 'I want people to continue to do that,'” Kimberly said. “He made it clear (the Fight Back Festival) was something he wanted us to continue to be a part of. It was about him wanting to help other people going through what we were going through, living what we lived.”

This year, the Cancer Community Center created the Haley Cup, to honor the team that raised the most money to support the center.

“(Tim) did a lot for us in a very short time of him getting involved with us,” said Jennifer Nelson, development director at the Cancer Community Center. “He donated television advertising for our event, he really helped to spread the word. After he passed away, we wanted to do something special to honor him.”

The center's goal was to raise $75,000, and more than $70,000 had been counted by Monday. All of the funds raised by the event go to support the free programs offered by the center.

With the creation of the Haley Cup, Team Headstrong was very motivated to take home the cup named for their friend. Nelson said that, at last check, the team had raised nearly $20,000 for the center.

Kimberly said she was thrilled about what  fundraising the team was able to do and that it truly shows how many lives Haley touched.

“He was just such a leader and motivator and, I think, last year it was sort of 'Come on, do this.' But this year we were all like this is a really positive way to remember him,” she said. “I know he would have been really thrilled with us doing something social and fun and positive.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.