GARDINER — It’s common for schools to have booster clubs that raise money for athletics and other extracurricular activities, but Gardner Regional Middle School didn’t have a booster club, so two eighth-grade boys from the school created one.

Identical twins Dana and Devyn Purington, 13, started the not-for-profit Mud in Your Face organization hoping to raise money for the school’s athletic department. The brothers are members of the school’s wrestling team and are tired of having mismatched uniforms and warm-ups when they go to meets.

“It’s silly to not have matching uniforms,” Dana said during a break from wrestling practice Thursday in the school’s gym. “It’ll be nice to have matching jackets and long pants and other stuff like that.”

The group hopes to raise money for the school’s athletics — and for the Wounded Warrior Project — with a fundraising event at 9 a.m. April 3 at the middle school, which happens to be the boys’ 14th birthday.

Dana and Devyn’s mother, Penny McKinney, has been going around town with her children trying to line up sponsors for the event, which will include a 1K and 5K race for walkers, runners and wheelchair participants.

“We’ve been going around looking for sponsors, and I’ll be tired, and the boys will push me to keep going,” McKinney said. “I’m very proud of them.”

The 1K course is a loop around the middle school, while 5K participants will travel through downtown Gardiner. Both races finish at the school. Medals will be awarded to all kids under 9 and to the top three finishers in several age groups. Each participant will also receive a free T-shirt with registration.

The boys hope to keep the organization going next year when they go to high school. Dana said he and his brother have learned a lot about responsibility and helping others.

“There’s a bunch of work we do that is preparing us (for our future),” Dana said. “We’re planning on keeping the organization going when we leave here.”

As if being an eighth-grader, preparing for high school, playing sports and helping run a nonprofit organization isn’t enough, Devyn has even more on his plate.

Because of complications at birth, Devyn has cerebral palsy, but you’d never know it from watching him on the wrestling mat, watching him juggle and just watching him run.

His mother credits his involvement in sports from a young age as being a saving grace in his life.

“He is in pain quite a bit, more so than the average joe, and if he wasn’t as active as he was, it would be a lot more severe,” McKinney said. “He’s got such a great attitude about it, and a lot of people don’t even realize that he’s got cerebral palsy.”

The boys both enjoyed running to the point that they started running around town and participating in races and on their school’s track team. After running the Gasping Gobbler Thanksgiving race at Cony High School last year, they decided to start their organization to help their school.

“I told them I liked the band Queen, so they went through all the songs and chose that lyric (from ‘We Will Rock You’),” McKinney said. “They like it because they want to kick mud in everyone’s faces by kicking their butts.”

In addition to the wide assortment of uniforms for the wrestling team, a lot of the track-and-field equipment is broken and held together by duct tape. McKinney said all the teams need different things.

Devyn, who was soft-spoken and shy during the interview and photo session, said it’s cool, fun and even annoying working on the Mud in Your Face group with his brother.

“We (have to balance everything), so we set up times when we can work on it,” Devyn said. “We’ve learned a lot.”

Their coach, Matt Hanley, said the boys don’t work well together on the mat, but they are involved with helping the other wrestlers.

“As eighth graders, you have to take a leadership role,” Hanley said. “And they are doing that and showing the younger kids what we are doing, and they are doing a good job.”

Hanley called the boys silent leaders, but he wished they were more vocal about the charity work they are doing.

“Their teammates don’t see the kind of example they are setting,” Hanley said. “They do their extra stuff without any fanfare. They are unassuming and don’t want any special treatment.”

Hanley said he’s been around the boys for about four years and sometimes forgets that Devyn has cerebral palsy because he doesn’t show it. Kids with cerebral palsy don’t normally do what Devyn is doing, Hanley said, and the other kids don’t know about it because he doesn’t say anything.

“But kids really surprise you,” Hanley said. “The more I find out about what Devyn is doing and how well he’s doing it, it’s truly inspiring.”

For more information on the April 3 Mud In Your Face event, visit www.runwalk.events/EventInformation.asp?eID=18379.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.