Every race Danny Evarts wanted to enter this year was canceled due to the pandemic, until Sunday, when the Woolwich firefighter got to bike seven miles from Wiscasset’s fire station to Woolwich’s and then run three miles to Bath’s, in Run2Respond. The interstate relay event benefits responders’ well-being and mental health via the non-profit Firefighter Five Foundation, according to Run2Respond.com
Minutes before leaving the Wiscasset station, Evarts said he was out of shape but it was fun just to be out on the road with others, including fellow department members. “It’s nice before it gets cold again to be able to get out,” he added. How was the weather for it? A little muggy, but he was liking the overcast, he said.
“It’s perfect,” Morgantown, Pennsylvania’s Lisa Steiner said. She was here in June taking fire stations’ photographs for the event to use online, and was back Sunday. People have been “super friendly” and laid back, and the area is beautiful, she said before she ran from Woolwich to Bath.
To help with social distancing, this year’s relay gave out batons to keep instead of there being one baton to pass, founder Steve Bender of Boothwin, Pennsylvania said in Wiscasset. “So basically we touch batons so that nobody has to physically touch each other.” Fundraising is up, to his surprise. “I didn’t think it would be, with all the shutdowns and slowdowns ... We weren’t really expecting a large donation base, so it’s really appreciated.” By early Monday, Run2Respond.com reported $15,267 raised.
After biking and cycling his Sunday evening legs, Evarts reported by email, the group made good time and had a good time cycling to Woolwich; then he, Woolwich junior firefighter Hailey Namer, 17, and two other people ran to Bath. Two others cycled that leg. “We also had a lot of support from other firefighter friends and family along the route, and our rescue and squad truck stayed with us the entire trip for safety – heroic patient drivers, trailing us!”
Danielle Namer saw her daughter off from Wiscasset. Hailey’s brother Alex Namer, 19, a Woolwich firefighter-emergency medical technician, ran the Woolwich to Bath leg last year. “They are fourth generation firefighters and grew up with a love for public safety. (Husband Jacob Williams and I) are very proud of our children for participating in the Run2Respond Relay and thank Danny for encouraging everyone to get involved,” their mother said via email later.
Woolwich Selectman and Maine House District 53 Rep. Allison Hepler also credited Evarts with her taking part. Before signing up, Hepler had not ridden a bike in at least two years.
“It’s a chance to give back to people who have been on the front lines during this terrible time,” Hepler said. The relay is set to end Aug. 23 in Maryland. Find updates at Run2Respond.com or Facebook, and more on the cause at firefighter5.com