Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in the history of the Trek Across Maine event, organizers created the Virtual Volunteer Award for the hundreds of volunteers who typically volunteer for the physical three-day event, according to a news release from the American Lung Association of Maine, based in Augusta.

Rick Smith of Skowhegan was named the recipient of the inaugural Virtual Volunteer Award, raising $610. The award is given to the volunteer who raises the most funds for the event.

Since 1985, the annual event has raised more than $30 million and is the largest fundraising event in the country for the American Lung Association.

“We missed seeing everyone in person this year to celebrate the spirit of the Trek. In a unique way it challenged us all to push the envelope and get creative. It certainly allowed people who might have considered participating in the past to give it a try. While we saw a lot of social distancing, we also saw a lot of activity on social media. The photos just kept pouring in,” said Kim Chamard, senior manager of development for the American Lung Association of Maine, according to the release.

The annual fundraising ride is typically held on Father’s Day weekend along a route from Brunswick to Lewiston, Waterville and Augusta. Registration is already open for the 2021 Trek Across Maine and more than 250 people have registered. To register, participate, volunteer or donate, visit TrekAcrossMaine.org.

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