2017-06-29 / Front Page

Run for Cash: It’s not the end, but a new beginning

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Old Orchard Beach has made a name for itself, outside of its summer tourism reputation, as a military friendly community.

The 13th annual Run For Cash was held at Old Orchard Beach High School Saturday, June 24 and welcomed more than 400 racers, volunteers and spectators. The race was founded by Old Orchard Beach residents Nancy Lee Kelley and her husband Bob in honor of Nancy’s son, Army Capt. Christopher Scott Cash. Cash was killed in action along with Sp-4 Daniel A. Dessins on June 24, 2004 in Baqubah, Iraq. All proceeds from the race go to the Captain Christopher Scott Cash Memorial Scholarship Fund, which awards three $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from Old Orchard Beach High School and Thornton Academy. Since 2005 more than $24,500 in scholarships has been awarded.

Kelley said she’s enjoyed watching the race grow from the grassroots community event it started as. She said she wasn’t sure the race would continue after this year but is grateful for Maine Veterans Count stepping in to take over the planning process for future races. The next Run For Cash Memorial Race will benefit Maine Veterans Count, in addition to local scholarships. Maine Veterans Count is a program of Easterseals that provides financial assistance to veterans, service members and military families. Kelley said she will always attend the race but will have a more hands off approach in the future. She said this year’s race was difficult coinciding with the exact date of her son’s Rosemary Holleman at the finish line of the Run For Cash as Spangle the Eagle. The balloon clusters on either side of Spangle were provided by Amie Romano of Amie’s Paint & Twist of Wells. (Grant McPherson Photo) death, but she is grateful for the support of the community.


Nancy Lee Kelley at the podium in the Old Orchard Beach High School Gymnasium. The wreath in front of her was provided by Wreaths Across America. Kelley planned to placed the Wreath on her son Capt. Christopher Cash’s tree in Memorial Park later that evening. (Grant McPherson Photo) Nancy Lee Kelley at the podium in the Old Orchard Beach High School Gymnasium. The wreath in front of her was provided by Wreaths Across America. Kelley planned to placed the Wreath on her son Capt. Christopher Cash’s tree in Memorial Park later that evening. (Grant McPherson Photo) “Today is about smiles, not tears,” Kelley said.

Pam Payeur, executive director of the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, said she has volunteered with Kelley for seven years and feels very strongly in support of her cause. Payeur founded the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine in 2008 as a nonprofit, all volunteer organization in support of wounded veterans who return home after active duty. Payeur said she and her staff help with moral support and wherever they are needed.

“We are here not as team Wounded Heroes,” Payeur said. “We come here to help Nancy with this event every year, we love it.”

Payeur said Old Orchard Beach is a small and tight knit community and Cash was well liked within it. She said many of his friends run the race in his memory every year. Payeur said she is impressed by the way Kelley turned her situation into a positive experience for the community.

“I think it’s a good reminder for people why they do what they do and that freedom is not free,” Payeur said.

Payeur said she encourages anyone looking to support her or Kelley’s organization to start by looking online.

“There is a way to get involved and it makes a huge difference,” she said.

Old Orchard Beach High School Principal and Superintendent of Schools John Suttie said it’s nice to know the students have a tangible hero they can look up to in Cash. Suttie said students see his plaque in the hallway, know the track is named after him and come out to support the race.

“We’re thrilled to host this event every year,” Suttie said. “We’re pleased to just be here and support all that has come.”

Suttie said he is finishing his third year working in the Old Orchard Beach School System and his first in his new duel role. He said it can be challenging at times but he is able to do both jobs, which means he can save an entire administrative salary.

Suttie said the local commitment to community and children has impressed him in the few years he has worked in the area.

“It’s a really special place, I feel fortunate to be working here,” Suttie said.

Suttie said unlike many other small towns in Maine, students in Old Orchard Beach all live relatively close to the school, which makes it easy for them to gather at events, such as the Run For Cash. He said because the town has a strong economic engine driving it, the school is able to support students and make sure nobody slips through the cracks. Suttie said students who have ties to the community end up wanting to give back. As schools around Maine close, Suttie said, and enrollments decline, Old Orchard Beach has remained steadfast in its decision to have a school system.

“This is who we are,” Suttie said. “We’re not giving it up.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

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