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Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon Shows Strong Community Support for Breast Cancer

June 02, 2017


Raises $27,000 for Southern Maine Health Care

BIDDEFORD, Maine – June 2, 2017 - Early Saturday morning on May 13, 1,500 runners eagerly awaited the start of the Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon, one of Maine's most picturesque races. Standing among the runners was one Power Ranger; with a face of pink war paint and a pink sword in her hand, Dr. Cynthia Chao, breast surgeon at Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC), had three roles that day, none of which were clinical. She was there as a runner, a fundraiser, and an advocate of local breast cancer support.

Dr. Chao stopped for a brief time at the Mile 4 Aid Station, where Helene Langley, breast nurse navigator in SMHC’s Center for Breast Care, stood alongside volunteers who had been personally touched by breast cancer. Cleverly dubbed "Survivor Oasis," the volunteers garb reflected that of the TV show, Survivor, and the women encouraged the runners with water, Gatorade, and words of thanks for supporting their cancer journey by running that day.

As evidenced by Dr. Chao and the volunteers at Mile 4 Aid Station, Saturday, May 13 was more than just a beautiful race day for the Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon. It was the special partnership between the race company, GiddyUp Productions, and SMHC that resonated. Runners, sponsors and volunteers alike came together that day to support SMHC's Center for Breast Care. The half marathon had raised over $27,000 to provide essential care resources to breast cancer patients at SMHC.

The two organizations have a unique partnership. In exchange for coordinating all volunteers for the half marathon, SMHC is the race’s official charitable partner and recipient of funds raised through sponsors and runners, including a significant gift from GiddyUp Productions. Every dollar raised directly supports the Center for Breast Care, helping to provide resources free-of-charge for patients, including support groups, patient navigator services, educational materials, and more. These services provide significant emotional relief to patients, and help to create a sense of guidance, compassion and family throughout their cancer journey.

This difference is one that Dr. Chao sees at work each day. Reflecting upon patients at SMHC, Dr. Chao says, "Many breast cancer survivors will tell you they couldn't have done it without the support of their family and friends…and if someone has no family to help them, we are their family, calling to check on them, helping them get rides, and calling to provide support." As a runner and fundraiser for the half marathon, the reasoning behind it was simple, "These are critical services that really make a difference for breast cancer patients and their families."

From the perspective of GiddyUp Productions, the partnership over the past four years has been their way of ensuring that funds raised are kept in the community to make a difference for local patients in need. Charles Melton, race director, shares, "We are very proud to be associated with SHMC's Center for Breast Care. Everyone knows someone who is battling or has battled cancer. We support the Center for Breast Care because they are here to help fight those battles."

The half marathon event itself required a team effort that included over 100 volunteers, including many of Southern Maine Health Care’s own employees.  From Emergency Department Physician Dr. Michael Schmitz arriving at 6:00 a.m. to set up the Medical Tent with his volunteers, to Kara Shuffleburg, scan clerk in the Kennebunk Family Medicine office, biking alongside the final runner until she crossed the finish line, there was something special about this race and a larger meaning behind why so many people showed up that day.

"This is one of my proudest days of the year,” SMHC President and CEO, Ed McGeachey, shares. "It is a day of true commitment on so many levels. We had eight SMHC employees commit to fundraising and running in this event. We had over 60 SMHC employees commit their Saturday morning to ensure a smooth race day for those runners. And GiddyUp Productions, yet again, committed to our cause so we could work together to make a difference for our breast cancer patients. We are proud to partner with GiddyUp, and humbled by the generosity of our volunteers, fundraisers, donors and sponsors, especially our loyal Platinum Sponsor, Ouellet Construction."

SMHC is pleased to thank community corporations for their generosity, including Gold Sponsors Kennebunk Savings Bank, North East Mobile Health Services, P&C Insurance, Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Savvy Event Rental, and WWSF "The Legends"; as well as Silver Sponsors Champagne's Energy, Corning Inc., Edison Press, SIS Bank, SMRT Architects and Engineers, and Souliere Tree Specialists.

About Southern Maine Health CareSouthern Maine Health Care (SMHC) is a national award-winning healthcare system with a non-profit mission "to improve the health and health care of the communities we serve." SMHC includes a full service, acute care medical center in Biddeford, with York County’s only inpatient mental health unit. Emergency care, surgical services, and diagnostic and therapy services are available at SMHC's Medical Centers in Biddeford and Sanford. SMHC offers primary care and multi-specialty physician services, diagnostic and therapy services, and Walk-In Care centers in various York County communities including Biddeford, Kennebunk, Saco, Sanford and Waterboro. SMHC is Joint Commission accredited and has been recognized for quality excellence by numerous outside organizations. To learn more about SMHC and SMHC providers, visit,, or

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