An hour and a half into a fundraiser for Dean Snell Cancer Foundation Saturday, Laila Dicus had walked 10 laps over the Wiscasset Speedway track. And the Wiscasset 14-year-old was still smiling, and still walking.
The weather for the third annual Racin' Cancer Walk was ideal, volunteers and walkers said: about 70F, a breeze and all sun. Penny Shorette said the turnout of at least 35 participants was a record. “It seems like it grows every year,” Shorette, who started the fundraiser and runs the track’s kids’ club, said. The total raised through raffles, the walking and other efforts would not be known until later in the week of Sept. 6, but she already knew the event broke last year’s $4,238, Shorette said.
She also predicted crying before the counting was done. She usually does, because the money helps cancer patients pay bills, and it shows that people want to help people fight cancer. “That warms my heart.”
Over the years since Snell’s family started the foundation, $827,000 has gone to helping patients, Snell’s widow Sharon Snell said. In 2022, that could reach $1 million, she said. “Dean will have been gone for 12 years (Sept. 19) and ... the next day, this whole thing started to develop” into the foundation. She recalled when her husband was sick and his sick leave ran out, and the family learned of others who also could not work due to their cancer. “So we started to see, if you’re not working and you have no money coming in, or very little, the differences it makes.
“So our thought was if we could do $15,000 to $20,000 a year to help cancer patients, that that would be wonderful ... Never could I have thought” it would top $100,000 a year, she said. “It’s still a shocker.” Even last year, with some fundraisers canceled and others modified, “we still gave out, directly to patients, almost $110,000 ... because of the support of the community,” Snell said.
Also helping Saturday was the woman who prepared the chemotherapy drugs for Dean Snell’s treatment at New England Cancer Specialists when the center was in Brunswick. It is in Topsham now and MacDonald, of Venice, Florida and Old Orchard Beach, is retired. She helps raise money for the foundation. Sharon Snell recalled, “I was volunteering at the center, and she just came up to me one day and said ‘Hey, I’ve got some things for your auction.’ And that was the start” years ago, of MacDonald’s help and their friendship.
Wiscasset’s Shelley Bailey works in concessions at the West Alna Road track. Walking Saturday with her grandchildren and other family members, she wore a T-shirt daughter Angela Schutt made and Bailey’s daughter-in-law Brandi Marshall came up with the words for: “For us it’s a race. For them it’s a battle.” Shelley Bailey said she has lost family members to cancer, so she likes to take part for that reason and to support the foundation, she said.
The speedway is a good place for the walk because cancer has impacted many drivers’ families and others, Shorette said.
Find more on the foundation at deansnell.org