Despite the soggy and cool conditions on Saturday morning, August 13th, a large crowd of runners and walkers found their way to the Windham High School campus to donate their time, money and honor the memory of Kelli Hutchison at the 6th Annual Kelli’s 5K.
This year’s run/walk was a success in many ways. At the time of this writing, $3,500 had been raised thus far. Donations were still coming in and are being accepted. The final dollar amount, less expenses, will be known in a few weeks.
A portion of this year’s donations were a result of sponsorships from the following organizations: Bob the Screenprinter, Casco Bay Steel Structures, Betty ReeZ WhoopieZ, Capozza Tile & Floor Covering Center, Sebago Trails Paddling Co., Dr. Podhouse at Orthodontic Associates, Grondin, Blue Rock Stone Center, Pike Industries, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Rowe Westbrook, Homestead Mortgage Loans, Primerica, Titcomb Associates, Joe and Suzanne Joyce.
Congratulations go to the fastest teen male and overall winner of this year’s event - William Chandler with a running time of 18:48. He was followed by the fastest male Eric Martin. The fastest female was Megan Curtis, followed by the fastest teen female, Analyse Harris.
Along with the winners of the event, many others came out in support of this community cause. One such person was George Vooris. George was present because raising awareness and funds for cancer is important to him. He is the organizer of the Second Annual Naples Causeway 5K Walk or Run that will occur this year on August 28th. Proceeds from that event will go towards the Patrick Dempsey Cancer Center and the local food pantry. Originally, George’s intention was to run the Kelli’s 5K but as a result of recently hurting his ankle, he volunteered instead.
Becky Delcourt of Windham has been a walker for this event since 2008, when it began as the St. Ann’s 5K. Delcourt stated, “I have known Kelli’s family for a long time and my son is a member of the WHS class of 2017.” As a result, she stated that it was especially important for her to participate again in this year’s event since 50 percent of the donations are going to the Windham High School 2017 Project Graduation, of which Kelli was also member. Becky’s friend, Michelle McCartney, joined the race for the first time. She was moved by Kelli’s story and wanted to make a contribution to this year’s cause and to honor the memory of the amazing and loving person that Kelli was known as by her family, friends and the community.
Jeremiah Merrill, a 2016 graduate of WHS, who grew up in the same neighborhood as the Hutchisons shared, “I remember playing with Kelli and her brother Cory. This is the first time I have participated in Kelli’s 5K but it is important to me to be a part of this year’s event. It is a special year since Kelli would have graduated in June 2017.” Jeremiah volunteered as parking attendant and participated as a walker.
Emily Skvorak and Celine Baker, both members of the 2017 graduating class, didn’t let the rain stop them either. Both of the runners were friends with Kelli and expressed how much they miss her presence. They both agreed that it was important for them to “honor and remember Kelli as a member of the graduating class.” They also spoke of Shane Donnelly, another class member who passed away unexpectedly in late spring of 2015. Celine stated that “the passing of Kelli and Shane brought the community and the class together in unexpected and special ways. It’s difficult to go through life without them.”
Emily continued with that same thought, “Whenever I am doing something for the first time, such as prom, I think it would have been so much more fun to have Kelli here, doing this with me.”
Another Kelli 5K volunteer also shared her story. Beverly Robertson, Kelli’s Aunt, has been volunteering since the Kelli 5K began in 2010. She believed Kelli’s spirit looked down upon Saturday’s event, “Kelli would be very pleased with the outpouring of caring happening today.” It seemed Beverly knew Kelli’s spirit was there as she shared a very special story. “On the day Kelli was laid to rest and as my husband and I were driving home, I asked Kelli for a sign.” Within a few minutes, it seems Kelli honored her aunt’s wishes by displaying a rainbow on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Not once, not twice, but three times. Beverly continued, “When I got home, I called Melissa (Kelli’s mother), and told her about my experience. As we were talking, a rainbow appeared just outside the window for Melissa to also see.”
Kelli’s parents, Melissa and Mike as well as her brother Cory wished to express their gratitude to all who participated and made donations. Overwhelmed with the spirit of community, the Hutchisons are happy beyond measure at this year’s successful Kelli’s 5K. It is their hope that Kelli’s essence remains a presence in the Windham community. Her love for life, her deep passion and caring for others, as well as the joy she had despite the challenges she faced at such a young age. May each individual in this small community see their own rainbows on difficult days and remember to enjoy it all, despite it all, Melissa said.
To make a financial contribution for the playground and 2017 Project Grad, visit the website at www.kellis5k.com.