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NM Cross Country Teams New Imitative "Miles for Lewiston"
From the Worcester Telegram and Gazette 10/2/16
 
Life changing clinic

For Suzanne Williams, attending a routine coaches' clinic last summer has turned into a life-changing experience.

Williams, who guides both the boys' and girls' cross-country teams at North Middlesex, met coaching colleagues Paul Soracco and Carolyn Court at the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University.

It was there that Soracco and his assistant Court, who are cross-country coaches at Lewiston High School in Maine, told Williams of the heartbreaking plight of the Somalian refugees, who lack the basic necessities to even have a decent pair of sneakers to run in.

"They told me about how the families could barely afford basic essentials, let alone specialized training gear such as running shoes," Williams said. "They told me they often run in shoes with gaping holes in them, and that their only meal is often the free lunch they get at school, and these kids become ill because they aren't properly fueled for the physical effort required."
Soracco and Court do what they can to provide the Somali kids the tools they need to run. Many of them, Williams learned, are talented athletes with great potential.

"Hundreds of athletes a year pass through their program," Williams, of Rutland, said. "Currently, they have 135 athletes between their boys and girls teams."
Forty to 60 percent of the Somalian refugees reside in Lewiston. Williams knew right away she wanted to be involved.

"I wanted it to be something I did with my team," Williams said. "I was thinking, 'What can I do to help them?' It was like, 'Oh, I can't wait to get this started.' I was so excited. I couldn't believe it was true. I felt moved to help them in any way I could and involve my runners at the same time."

Williams and her teams are conducting "Miles for Lewiston" through Oct. 19. Every mile her athletes run while training will be done on behalf of the Lewiston kids.
"I established a GoFundMe account so people can donate or sponsor our miles," Williams said. "We are collecting gently used running shoes and running gear like shorts, shirts and socks. The kids are going to their friends and neighbors and family members."

The North Middlesex teams also will be collecting donations and/or equipment at the Wachusett, Quabbin, Bay State and Frank Mooney Invitationals and at the Central Mass. championships. The Patriots will accept donations at any dual meet they're competing.

"Whatever people can do is appreciated," Williams said. "I've reached out to people, and it's gotten bigger and bigger."
 
Williams said she and her captains will drive to Lewiston on Nov. 8 to deliver whatever donations and equipment they collected and meet the Somali kids.

"I hope we do well for them," Williams said. "The running community is a giving community."
Williams said she is also more than happy to pickup anything people may want to donate.

—Contact Steve Farley at .
 
   
Author: James Bunnell   E-Mail: jbunnell@nmrsd.org