2017-08-03 / Editorial

Triathlon is boost for both tourism and nonprofits

Beyond the Headlines
by Sen. Justin Chenette

Ironman is coming to our community.

No, not the Marvel comic book superhero that spawned a major film franchise. I’m talking about the international Ironman 70.3 Triathlon being held the final weekend in August right here throughout Old Orchard Beach and Saco.

You may remember the REV3 Triathlon that has appeared on the calendar during the same timeframe the past few years. Now this event has expanded and it’s all grown up. It’s a 1.2 mile swim in the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a 56 mile bicycle ride, ending with a run on the Eastern Trail. I’m tired just listing that off.

The buzz is already paying off. Nearly 2,500-plus participants will be coming.

Anytime we have thousands of visitors from all over the country, it’s a fantastic benefit to our area. This will be nearly 2,500 people staying in our hotels, eating at our locally owned restaurants, all the while getting a flavor of what the Old Orchard Beach-Saco area has to offer for future vacation opportunities. This is good for business and good for the economy, but there are also benefits to local nonprofits.

I’m proud to serve this year as its volunteer coordinator, though organizing an event like this is no easy undertaking.

There are a variety of duties that will need to be filled throughout the weekend, including stuffing packets, checking in athletes, assisting athletes in peeling off wetsuits and handing out supplies. Kayakers are also needed to serve as directional guides.

One thing that is unique, as a way to give back to the community, Ironman is offering a donation to the organization of your choice in exchange for a volunteer shift. Get a solid group to volunteer and you have a nice check coming to your favorite local organization.

As someone who runs a nonprofit organization myself, the ability to raise funds for the variety of scholarships, grants and programs we offer can be difficult, to say the least. There are so many great groups and organizations that could benefit from helping out with this amazing event.

Not to mention, it’s a blast. I have volunteered at the bike aid station out near Grant Farm for the past few years and every time I have so much fun. As bicyclists zoom by, volunteers hand out Gatorade, water and protein packed essentials for the long the stretch ahead. While all of the athletes are competitive, they are so kind and gracious for us being there. Many thank us even if they don’t accept any of the goodies to make sure we know they appreciate it. The whole feeling has a sense of togetherness you don’t always find with large scale events. You feel connected. You end up really rooting for each and every one of the individuals pushing their minds and bodies to the limit to complete a major feat.

At this point, we need about 1,000 volunteers to pull off this triathlon successfully. It will not be possible without your help. If you want to get involved and sign up for a volunteer shift, you can do so at www.VolunteerIronman.com which will go straight to our Maine event registration page. Where is says which organization you are representing, put the group/nonprofit you are raising money for.

However, what we really need are groups. It could be business groups that to raise resources for a charity of their choice. It could be a student group raising funds for their after school program. It could be a group of church members or a nonprofit trying to raise capital to carry out the important mission of their organization. No matter the scenario, we need you. If this might be of interest, please reach out to me ASAP by emailing justinchenette@gmail.com. Would love to get you on board.

For the rest of us, let’s all be welcoming on the final weekend of August to the individuals making our community their chosen destination.

Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a marketing & public relations firm, works as the Marketing Coordinator of Saco Sport & Fitness, and is the president/ CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Sign up for legislative updates at www.justinchenette.com or www.Facebook.com/JustinChenette.

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