JAY — Otis Federal Credit Union will host the Inaugural Fall Fun 5K Walk/Run on Saturday, Sept. 23, with all proceeds going to Franklin County Special Olympics.

“This is quite an undertaking,” Credit union employee Sarah Hayes said.

Katie Ouellette, who works with special education students in Regional School Unit 73, and credit union employee Barbie Richard began planning the event in the spring.

“I’ve brought kids to Special Olympics for several years,” Ouellette said. “It does so much for them. We want to raise awareness about the number of kids involved.”

Richard previously worked in RSU 73’s special education department and had a special needs son. 

“I wanted a way to give back to an organization that has blessed my life and the lives of so many others,” Richard said.

More than 3,300 athletes are involved in the statewide Special Olympics program. The state organization is divided into 13 county program committees. 

Franklin County’s committee members are all volunteers. For years, AMVETS Post 33 members have played a major role in developing a year-round program for persons with intellectual disabilities. 

Richard said Jay AMVETS’ efforts for Franklin County Special Olympics make it the only self-supporting program in the state. 

“The need has grown,” Ouellette said. “The program starts with third grade. There are at least 30 kids from RSU 73 with various needs participating. The numbers are much higher for RSU 9” based in Farmington, Ouellette said.

The goal for the Inaugural Fall Fun 5K Walk/Run is to raise $10,000.

“That may be a hefty goal, but Franklin County Special Olympics does so much,” Richard said.

Student and adult athletes bowl six times each at Meadow Lanes in East Wilton. There are four dances for middle and high school students, the three-day Sugarloaf Winter Games, local Titcomb Mountain winter games, spring games at Mt. Blue High School and Orono Summer Games.

An annual yard sale and the Colin Richard Memorial golf tournament at Maple Lane in Livermore support those programs.

“It’s amazing to see the volunteers who participate. It’s so rewarding to see how much fun they have while helping those with special needs,” Ouellette said.

“Gary Desjardins is a force, raising funds for Special Olympics,” Richard said. “Ten years ago he named the AMVETS golf tourney for my son. I wanted to add to it this year, make it a huge success for everything he’s done.”

For nonparticipants, donations will be accepted at the credit union and on the day of the event.

The credit union will provide giveaways.

“We’re starting simple, we will add to it as we go on,” Ouellette said. “This is a great community that comes together for things we’re passionate about. I hope there’s a big turnout.”

The walk/run begins at 9 a.m. at 170 Main St., continues down Main Street to Franchetti’s, on to the Whistle Stop Trail and ends at French Falls Recreation Area. It won’t be timed.

Registration is required. The registration fee is $25. Special Olympians and those under age 10 register for free. Checks should be payable to Franklin County Special Olympics.

Preregistration is available at Otis Federal Credit Union, or on the Franklin County Fall 5k Fun Walk/Run Facebook event page, or at raceentry.com/race-reviews/franklin-county-fall-fun-5k.

Same-day registration begins at 8 a.m.

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An Inaugural Fall Fun 5K Wals/Run will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, at Otis Federal Credit Union in Jay to benefit Franklin County Special Olympics. Volunteers are seen helping a participant during a previous Special Olympics event.

An Inaugural Fall Fun 5K Wals/Run will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, at Otis Federal Credit Union in Jay to benefit Franklin County Special Olympics. Volunteers and participants are seen during a previous Special Olympics event.

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