Portland 5K to raise funds for Planned Parenthood

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WESTBROOK — A Westbrook resident is planning a 5K road race in Portland to raise money for Planned Parenthood.

The race, which is being organized by Myles Courtney, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26, from 8-10 a.m. Participants will run the Back Cove trail in Portland starting near the soccer fields.

Courtney started the race, called Fuel the Bern 5K, last year to raise money for the presidential campaign of  U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

“While the 2016 Fuel the Bern race was successful, Sanders’ campaign eventually was not, but the values Sanders supported resonate now more than ever with many people in Portland,” a press release for the race stated.

Courtney said Planned Parenthood is a vital organization and he wants to support it.

“Basically it’s a great service for women and people in general,” he said. “It’s been a really beneficial program, especially for those without as much money who couldn’t otherwise afford those services.”

Planned Parenthood is important, Courtney said, because it provides people with STD screenings, abortion consulting and other health care services. He said he is very much against President Donald Trump’s desire to de-fund the organization.

“The main thing is, I really believe these services should be provided,” Courtney said.

Nicole Clegg, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said the organization greatly appreciates what Courtney is doing to help.

“It means a lot to us that people are stepping up,” she said.

Clegg said the organization has been seeing more support and receiving more donations in recent months.

“We’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the response from the community and their support for Planned Parenthood,” she said.

Participants in the 5K must register online on Eventbrite to run the race, which is being capped at 250 runners. There is a suggested $25 donation to participate in the race, but Courtney said any amount, no matter how small, will be accepted. 

All of the money raised at the race will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which has an office on Congress Street in Portland. Courtney said he hopes the organization will have representatives at the race to distribute information and educate people about the organization.

Courtney also said he wants to start a pledge system so people who can’t be at the race can sponsor runners. He is also encouraging non-runners to make donations directly to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

The male and female first place race winners will each receive a trophy made by a local artist. Also, the top three highest donors will be honored after the race.

Last year, 115 runners participated in the Fuel the Bern 5K and $3,000 was raised. Courtney said he hopes to raise more money this year, but isn’t setting a goal for an amount.

“I don’t have a goal because I hope people give a lot of money,” he said. “I don’t want to put a cap on it.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.