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Trek Across Maine begins Friday
REGION -- On Father’s Day weekend, the American Lung Association of the Northeast will celebrate the 29th annual Trek Across Maine, with more than 2,000 cyclists taking off from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and finishing up at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast.
The event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization nationwide, raising $1.8 million in 2012, with a goal of $2 million for 2013.
The Trek Across Maine wouldn’t be what it is today without the longtime support of L.L.Bean, Maine’s largest retailer. L.L.Bean has been a sponsor of the Trek almost as long as the Trek has been around and the company’s involvement continues to grow each year.
“L.L.Bean is a proud sponsor of the Trek Across Maine and the level of our involvement has grown with each passing year,” said Greg Elder, Vice President of Stores for L.L.Bean. In addition to generously sponsoring the event, recruiting an army of company employees to volunteer at the event and sending their expert bike technicians from Freeport to perform on-site mechanical help at the L.L.Bean-sponsored rest stop and other rest areas sprinkled along the route, the company sends its very own team of cyclists comprised of company staff and customers.
With over 200 members, the L.L.Bean team has been the largest team at the Trek for the last several years; they’ve also been the top fundraising team. Last year, the team exceeded their goal of raising $100,000 and raised over $160,000 to support the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. This year, they anticipate doing the same. Elder estimates L.L.Bean’s fundraising for the Trek has eclipsed $1 million since the company became involved in the early 1980’s.
“Our participation in the Trek is really companywide,” says Elder. “The employees and customers who participate aren’t only from Freeport; we have representation from almost every department in the Company and our 32 Retail and Outlet Stores representing 9 states with people traveling from as far as Chicago and the Philadelphia area.”
Greg, who himself has four years as a trekker under his belt, says it's a memorable event that Bean is thrilled and proud to be a part of.
“All of us at L.L.Bean are really committed to our outdoor heritage. We share our customers' belief in the value of the outdoors experience and the physical and spiritual rewards that come from participation in outdoor activities, like cycling. We encourage healthy lifestyles and participating in an event like this is good for our employees and our customers. The Trek Across Maine aligns very closely with our core values.”
“The level of support that L.LBean provides at the Trek is second to none,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “From the staff who ride as part of the team and fundraise, to the hundreds of employees who volunteer, to the team of bike mechanics who keep our trekkers safe on the road, everyone plays a critical role in the event’s success.”
In addition to L.L.Bean’s prominent presence at the event, the company begins working to make the event a success months in advance of Trek weekend. The bike shop performs hundreds of “trek checks” at discounted rates to event participants to ensure their bikes are in good working order in time for the ride. At the Trek, their bike mechanics are on site replacing things like tires and parts free of charge. The company also donates a generous number of prizes to the event, including much-coveted L.L.Bean gift certificates that the Lung Association awards as incentive prizes to top fundraisers.
“On Trek Weekend half of our store will be cycling or volunteering at the event and the other half will be running the store but supporting us nonetheless,” says Greg. “All of us at the company are proud to support this event and are looking forward to another successful Trek Across Maine.”
Asked what he like most about the Trek, Greg says it’s the sense of accomplishment. “It feels great to cross the finish line and it’s especially inspiring to see people who are new to cycling and never thought they could complete a ride like this cross that finish line right along with everyone else.”
On Friday, more than 2,000 will leave from Sunday River Ski Resort and make the 180-mile Trek to Belfast. Cyclists come from all over the country to be a part of the weekend. All proceeds benefit the American Lung Association and help fund valuable research, education and advocacy.
Registration for the Trek's 30th Anniversary ride in 2014 is open online by visiting TrekMaine30.org and will also be available on-site at this year's Trek. To learn more about the Lung Association’s other bike treks or to make a donation that could help save lives visit Biketreknewengland.org.