Alain Ollier, of Newcastle and formerly of France, will run in the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day to raise funds for Healthy Lincoln County’s summer meals program.
Ollier qualified for Boston at the Sugarloaf Marathon with 11 minutes to spare. This will be his fifth marathon, but first Boston. He has run all four in New England, including two at Sugarloaf, one in Portland, and one in Burlington, Vt.
The 47-year-old said running a marathon “was on my list of things I really wanted to do. When I moved to Maine with my wife, I started with Burlington, four or five years ago.”
Once he qualified for Boston, he knew he wanted to run for a charity to help others. When he heard on a radio station that 25 percent of children and adults over 65 suffer from food insecurity, he knew what his mission would be.
“One out of four students go to school with empty stomachs. I said I wanted to find a charity for kids who were food-insecure,” Ollier said.
“This program would provide food for kids outside of school in the summer. There are the backpacks and other great programs during the school year, but for the summer, there are not that many. I love to participate and give a hand, so children can concentrate on having fun in the summer instead of having a gurgling stomach,” Ollier said.
Last summer Healthy Lincoln County provided over 12,500 free meals to children in nine locations in the county, including breakfast and lunch to 550 area children. The program is partially sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The meals are prepared in two area schools, in AOS 98 and RSU 40, then transported to nine sites in Lincoln County. Healthy Lincoln County also provides programs and activities for children. “They can eat, play, and learn, so it is a good experience for them,” said Kate Marone, director of Healthy Lincoln County.
“A lot of kids rely on free and reduced lunches during the school year,” Marone said. “Feeding kids in the summer is a burden on some families. This is just another way to help. Anyone is welcome. There are no referrals, eligibility, or paperwork – no questions asked.”
Menus, sites, and food service times are listed on Healthy Lincoln County’s website during the summer months. Healthy Lincoln County is always looking for more volunteers to help with the program, and more sites to serve food.
“As a Frenchman living in Maine, running the Boston Marathon is a great honor,” Ollier said on his Crowd Rise online fundraiser. “It will be an even greater one to do my part to contribute in the fight against food insecurity in my wonderful adopted state.
“Running one marathon, something society sees as a great achievement, pales in comparison to the marathons so many hungry parents must run every day, 365 days a year, to try to keep their families’ tummies full. Food is a basic necessity, yet one out of four children in Maine do not have enough food to eat. The next generation is our greatest resource, a resource that needs not just love and attention, but also enough in their stomach to grow, learn, thrive, and bloom.
“I am running the Boston marathon on April 17. Please donate to this amazing program and help participate in reducing child hunger in Maine. All proceeds will go directly to Healthy Lincoln Country, a project of Medical Care Development Inc. No one should go hungry. Ever.”
Since 2012, Healthy Lincoln County has served over 30,000 meals from locations in Lincoln County.
“If you don’t have gas in your car you can’t go anywhere. If you don’t have fuel in your stomach, how can you go anywhere?” Ollier said.
“I’m just happy to use the opportunity of running the marathon to give a hand to a great cause and help the community. The kids are the cornerstone and future of the community,” he said.
To donate, go to goo.gl/PcrzjW.
“We will be grateful for whatever comes in. It wouldn’t take much to make a difference,” Marone said.