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Athletes of all ages race in Tour de la Vallee to support cancer fund

FORT KENT, Maine — Runners, walkers and bicyclists raised $16,000 for the Egdar J. Paradis Cancer Fund in the annual Tour de la Vallee fundraiser on Sunday, August 20.

Organizers reported a rise in attendance with 73 registered participants compared to 65 last year.

Northern Maine Medical Center administers the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, which began in 1978 in memory of Guy Paradis, who passed away from the illness. The fund provides financial assistance including travel expense for patients with cancer and their families to attend medical appointments outside of the local area.

The Tour de la Vallee featured athletes of all ages, including Miguel Sanclemente, 14, of Fort Kent, who raced in the 35-mile bicycle run in the event.

“It moved to the Heritage Trail, which is a lot more manageable than the road, so I decided to give it a shot,” Sanclemente said of his first time racing in the Tour de la Vallee. The home-schooled high-school freshman and future engineer rode a Specialized brand mountain bike.

“It’s good exercise and it’s a lot of fun,” he said of bicycling. He also skis during the winter and likes to operate remote-controlled vehicles.  

Claire Moss, a Northern Maine Medical Center employee who is also an Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund board member, organized this year’s Tour de la Vallee.

“I work in administration. We process the applications for Paradis fund assistance. It is unbelievable the amount of people that need assistance for travel so they can have loved ones with them,” she said. “This is our major fundraiser for the year, the one that brings in the most.”

Volunteer Mark Beaulieu, who owns and operates the bicycle shop Hillside Sports in Fort Kent, helped ensure racers’ bikes were up to snuff before the race.

“I come here every year for support in the morning,” he said. “I adjust the gears, check the tire pressure and see if anything is needed before the race.”

Other volunteers registered racers and prepared a barbecue lunch for participants following the event.  

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