KVCC Chain Lynx team raises $6,000 in 30th annual Trek Across Maine

FAIRFIELD — A five-member team of cyclists for Kennebec Valley Community College raised approximately $6,000 to fight lung cancer during the American Lung Association’s 2014 Trek Across Maine, according to a KVCC press release.

The team members joined more than 2,000 cyclists in the annual event, riding from Sunday River Ski Resort, in Newry, to Belfast over three days, June 13-15, with overnight stops in Farmington and Waterville.

Adopting the KVCC lynx mascot as part of their name, the “KVCC Chain Lynx” team included KVCC President Richard Hopper, department chair Mark Kavanaugh, student and team captain Mark McAfee, and instructor Steve Knight. The team was joined by Waterville Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan, and KVCC Vice President Jon Connolly provided support on the road.

For some members of the team, the fight against lung cancer is a very personal one.

President Hopper participated in the ride this year in solidarity with one of his closest childhood friends was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer Stage IIIB in January of 2013.

Glass writes a regular column for Parade Magazine about her journey with lung cancer, and is an inspiration for many affected by the disease.

“She chronicles her experiences with candor and humor, putting a human face on a frightening subject and providing insights that are both informative and entertaining,” Hopper said in the release. “This is my way to provide support although I’m on the other side of the country.”

Mark McAfee, a student in the respiratory therapy program at KVCC and a veteran of more than a dozen Treks, said the ride is a way of remembering and honoring his mother who died of lung cancer in 1979.

Despite participating in many Treks since his first in 1987, McAfee said this year was a special one for him.

“Not only am I enrolled in college and part of team KVCC Chain Lynx, but I am becoming part of a team that will assist people who have pulmonary issues and conditions through the respiratory therapy program at KVCC.” McAfee said in the relwase. “It is an exciting new beginning and a chance to help others enjoy healthier lives.”

For Mark Kavanaugh, chair of the mental health department at KVCC, this was his first Trek.

Kavanaugh said while it was thrilling to actually bike nearly 200 miles across the state of Maine, the more compelling experience was sharing stories with fellow riders, many of whom have a very personal connection to the Trek and the fight against lung cancer.

“I met people with amazing personal stories of how lung disease and the Trek Across Maine have impacted them,” Kavanaugh said in the release. “I walked away having met only a few of my fellow riders, but feeling deeply connected to all of them.”

Another unexpected aspect of the ride for Kavanaugh was learning about the practice of carrying memorial stones on trips like the Trek to commemorate fallen soldiers. The small stones are returned to the families of the soldiers after the trips.

“One person told me that over 200 stones were on the Trek this year, and he showed me a picture of his soldier’s young daughter holding a sign that said, ‘Thank you for bringing my daddy’s stone on your bike ride,'” Kavanaugh said in the release. “He planned on returning the stone to that little girl on Sunday.”

Steve Knight, a history instructor at KVCC, said the event was a fantastic experience with thousands of riders and volunteers joining together in a good cause, never complaining in spite of difficult weather.

“The volunteers and the people cheering along the way, and especially at the finish, makes all the effort worthwhile,” Knight said in the release. “And it is wonderful for KVCC to be seen out there; alumni came up to chat, others were very impressed that the college had a team, and that our president was riding and our vice-president was out there supporting us.”

The Trek has raised millions of dollars through sponsorships to fight lung disease and promote cleaner air and is the top fund-raising event for the American Lung Association nationwide.

This was the 30th year the event has been held.

While many KVCC staff and students have participated in past Treks as riders and volunteers, this was the first time an official KVCC team has participated.

KVCC is one of seven community colleges in Maine that operate under the authority of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. KVCC is a public, non-profit, post-secondary institution supported in part by state legislative appropriations and federal funds.

To learn more about KVCC, vistit www.kvcc.me.edu.

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