Sunday, June 22, 2014

Second annual UCAN 5K a success in Raymond - By Elizabeth Richards

The weather was cloudy and unpredictable, but that didn’t prevent runners and walkers from turning out for the second annual UCAN 5K and kids’ fun run. The event was held Saturday, June 14th, at the Sheri Gagnon Park in Raymond.

Friends, family and community members gathered in the park to honor the life of Candace Woolston, who passed away from cancer in December of 2012. She would have loved the event, said her husband, Jack Woolston, “But she wouldn’t like it being all about her,” he added. “She was more a giver than a taker.” 

The race wouldn’t happen without volunteers like organizers Brenda Dionne and Ed Gagne, Woolston said. “They’re the glue. They keep this together, and they make it easy for my boys and I to come.” Jack walked in the race, and Will and Tyler, his sons, both ran.

Dionne was busy the day of the event, tending to endless small details, and keeping people informed every step of the way with announcements on the loudspeaker. She said she thinks the event went well, and attributes that to the group of approximately 50 volunteers.

This year, though not as emotional as last year’s event which was just a few short months after Candace’s death, ran much more smoothly, said Dionne. “We didn’t know what the heck we were doing,” she said of the first event. This year she said, “Everybody just kind of pulled together.” She said a great committee and more volunteers than she could name helped make the event successful. 

The goal for the day is to provide a community atmosphere, she said, and the event certainly offered that. It was much like a block party, with music by Flamin’ Raymond and Sizzlin’ Susan, hula hooping, refreshments for sale, and plenty of cheering and encouragement for all race participants. There were a little over 300 participants this year, said Dionne, and in future years she would like to see it grow to 600 participants. 

The timing went more smoothly this year as well, since they were more prepared for the turnout they had. Last year, said Dionne, 150 people signed up at the last minute, and they ran out of bib numbers and had to improvise, making it difficult for the timers to accurately record numbers as they crossed the finish line.

The Raymond Elementary School chorus sang the National Anthem, and then the kids fun run began. Before the 5K, participants warmed up with Zumba, then lined up for the big start. The top finisher, with a time of 17:44, was Sheri Piers from Falmouth. Dionne stayed at the microphone, announcing names and encouraging participants until the last one crossed the finish line. 

One of the big sponsors of the event was Norway Savings Bank, where Candace’s sister works. She has been a big support in bringing everyone together and keeping the event going, said Dionne. Cabelas donated all of the prizes, including fishing poles for every child who entered the fun run, headlamps, hammocks, zero gravity chairs and gift certificates. With prizes donated, all the funds raised can be put towards the goal of getting a new playground structure for the Sheri Gagnon park. “It’s going to take some years, because we want something really nice and durable,” said Dionne. After this year’s event, total money raised will top $7,000, she said.

Race results can be found online at

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