MEXICO — More than 300 students, staff, community members and one dog tore down the track at Mountain Valley Middle School Friday for a 5K run to honor RSU 10 Nutrition Director Jeanne LaPointe and to raise money for the Dempsey Center for Hope and Healing and the Maine Cancer Foundation.
LaPointe is fighting breast cancer, and her husband, Steve, is a teacher at the middle school.
“We’re running it to show solidarity,” said Principal Ryan Casey, who along with dozens of others was wearing a bright pink T-shirt with the words "Fight Like A Girl" printed on them. “I think the area in which we live is amazing. The support and the community spirit when things get tough — we’re here for each other. It’s a proud moment.”
Steve LaPointe, a social studies teacher for 35 years, saw the whole event as incredible and unbelievable.
“They asked me what I thought, and I was blown away,” he said as he ran while pushing seventh-grader Devonte Dupree in a wheelchair. Devonte recently had surgery but still wanted to participate.
“We wanted to do something for Mr. LaPointe and his wife,” Devonte said.
“This is very humbling,” Steve LaPointe said. “The support of this school and the administration has been phenomenal.”
The couple regularly runs triathlons.
“Jeanne is tough, and she’s so strong,” he said.
The $1,500 raised from students, staff and others is going to the two cancer-fighting organizations.
Erica Grimaldi, a health teacher at the school, said a group of staff members organized the walk-run. Some of the fundraising was done online, as well as through the sale of the pink T-shirts. The event was promoted through fliers and Facebook.
Several local businesses also helped out, including Jarato’s Screen Printing, which donated $350 toward the cost of the T-shirts, and the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, which made the bibs the runners and walkers wore.
“A lot of people put in a lot of effort,” she said.
Many students echoed the reasons for participating as similar to those of eighth-grader Kelsey Theriault of Rumford.
“Mr. LaPointe’s wife has breast cancer, and he is one of my favorite teachers. I’m doing it for his wife,” she said.