Even while acknowledging the tragedy of David LeClair’s death, fathers who volunteered their time to support the Trek Across Maine said sharing the overall experience with their children on Father’s Day weekend was rewarding.

Phil Wright, 55, of Monmouth, has been participating in the fundraiser for the last 10 years with his son, Chad Wright, 30, also of Monmouth.

The Wrights, who are participating as volunteers for the L.L. Bean team this year rather than riders, said that they couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Fathers’ Day than with a three-day journey from Bethel to Belfast for a good cause.

When riding, the two wait for each other at rest stops along the route, swapping stories of deer sightings or other news from the road.

“It gives me a reason to get out there and get in shape,” Phil Wright said.

The Wrights agreed that their favorite part of the trip is a scenic ride along the river as they leave Farmington for Waterville.

This year, Phil Wright said, he didn’t feel as if he was in good enough shape to do the trek; but driving a truck as a volunteer had proved to require more hours and longer days.

He wasn’t complaining, though.

“This is actually a perfect trek weekend,” he said.

The Wrights said they enjoyed the quality time they get to spend as father and son during the event.

Of the tragedy, the Wrights said LeClair was in their hearts, and that they were inspired when they saw participants cheering other riders from athenahealth, the 100-member team LeClair was a part of, into the rest stop.

Continuing the race and bringing awareness to the cause was what LeClair would have wanted, he said.

Mike Sleeper, 48, of Windham, said he was proud to volunteer over the past four years, while his three children, aged 13 to 17, participated as riders in a team organized by the Community Bike Center of Biddeford.

His children had already wished him a happy Father’s Day, Sleeper said, even though it was a day early.

LeClair’s death had an emotional effect on his group, he said, which included many young riders.

“It’s a bummer,” he said. “We’ve lost one of our own.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

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