Testament to a life
Last Friday, a young man from Watertown, Mass., was struck and killed by the rear portion of a tractor-trailer truck as he pedaled on Route 2 in Hanover during the start of the American Lung Association's Trek Across Maine. It is a three-day bicycle ride from Newry to Belfast.
I was at home when tragedy felled 23-year-old David LeClair, who was one of more than 100 athenahealth team riders participating in the event. My editor emailed me that a Trek rider had been killed in an accident, and I took off to cover the incident and ensuing state police investigation.
I also wanted to find out what I could about LeClair, whose name I didn't know.
When I arrived at my office in our Rumford bureau, I proceeded to track down his employer and Trek officials for statements. Having covered previous Treks, I knew that participants had a page on the Trek website from which they could seek donations.
LeClair's profile stated that he wanted to raise $500 to fight lung disease and to raise awareness.
Shortly after his death, the continuously refreshing profile site stated that he had raised $605. Then that amount continued to grow as more people learned from news coverage and word of mouth about his death.
I kept that site open on my work computer, marveling at how quickly people began donating in his memory through the week afterward. Some posted messages in the scrolling window that showed donors, many of whom listed themselves as "anonymous."
That to me is testament to LeClair's life, because as of late Thursday evening that number had blossomed to $3,805 and wasn't showing any sign of stopping.
— Terry Karkos
Budding musicians honor teacher, 'pay it forward'
Friends started the Bill Giasson Memorial Music Camp Scholarship Fund last year to honor the late teacher, helping send six children to music camp.
This year, they had more applicants and wanted to do more good, but there wasn't enough money to go around.
So four Winthrop students — students who'd already been told they were receiving scholarships — raised some more.
They helped two other kids also head off to camp.
"They all offered to pay it forward," said Jan Strout, one of the organizers. "I was so proud that they were passing on Mr. Giasson's spirit of wanting to be of service, wanting to be kind and showing that through music."
Giasson, from Lewiston and a country music performer, had taught at Winthrop for 19 years. He'd also led a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren for 10 years. After Giasson died in February 2012, members of that support group started the music scholarship.
"We decided the two things he loved most were kids and music," Strout said.
The scholarship is open statewide to any student with musical interest with some criteria for financial need. This year, the group gave out 20 scholarships for between $300 to $100, applied to a variety of camps. Recipients were from several towns, including Buckfield, New Gloucester, Augusta and Bangor.
Organizing the bottle drive that helped two of those campers were Justin Huntley, 11, Natasha Heath, 11, Adrienne Tracy, 15, and Elizabeth Ward, 13.
The bottle drive is still going on at Hannaford, under the CLYNK account "billgiasso."
— Kathryn Skelton
Bill on the purple bus
LEWISTON — For the past few days School Superintendent Bill Webster has been riding on and tweeting about the citylink purple buses because he wanted to learn about the public service.
"I learned we have a very clean bus service. It's on time, reliable, friendly bus drivers," he said. Price: $1.50 a ride.
But the Sabattus Street route he rode had too few passengers. One time, Webster said, he was the only passenger, other times there were a handful. It's a great service, he said. "I would like to promote it. It's underutilized."
To get from Hannaford's on Sabattus Street to downtown took only eight minutes, he said. One day Webster needed to get to Lewiston High School. He took the bus to Ash and Jefferson and walked the rest of the way, down Knox Street, through Franklin Pasture.
Webster said he admired the beautiful greenery of the fields. "It was fun walking down Knox," he said. "Some people knew who I was, came up and shook my hand, asked about school next year."
Public transportation and attractive green spaces, which the area has, are what separate a great city from a not-so-great city, Webster said.
If he has a day where he doesn't have a car, "I would be quite comfortable taking the bus."
— Bonnie Washuk