Sideline Stories: Ray and Brian, Maine Cancer Foundation Road Trip


It’s 28 degrees and the wind is shaking the tent on the morning of May 18th. Besides the friendly park ranger and an even friendlier raccoon, Aroostook State Park is empty. The conditions are perfect for a work trip in The County.

Maine Cancer Foundation isn’t an outdoor brand, yet we’re sleeping in the woods. We aren’t an athletic brand either, but we put on the largest triathlon in the state. In the coming weeks, hundreds of athletes, volunteers, and supporters will gather at SMCC for the Tri for a Cure, an event that has raised more than $20 million over the past 15 years to fight cancer in Maine.

“Where does the money go?” We get asked this question quite frequently leading up to the race. The shortened answer is that funds are invested in cancer prevention, early detection, and improving patient outcomes here in Maine. However, it takes a drive up Route 11 to appreciate the true impact. That’s why we’re here, in a camper van graciously loaned to us by Maine Adventure Company  We are on the road visiting our grantee partners in northern Maine.

Our first stop was in Fort Kent at the Edgar J. (Guy) Paradis Cancer Fund. Forced to leave the familiarity of the St. John Valley for cancer treatment in Portland, Guy Paradis wanted those who were in a similar situation to feel the comforts of home. Before his passing, Guy willed the start-up money to begin providing financial assistance to families so they can accompany their loved ones to cancer treatments far from home. An ideal partnership with MCF. The fund also provides sponsorship of monthly support groups, educational seminars regarding cancer awareness, as well as an extensive reference library of cancer-related subjects.

In Caribou, we met with representatives from Brian’s Ride Cancer Fund at their annual garage sale. Brian Caldwell was a well-known self-employed carpenter who was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer and later died of his illness. Following his passing, Brian’s family wanted to help those in need cover the cost of cancer treatments. The motorcycle ride in his honor is meant to signify the hills, valleys, and winding roads of a cancer journey. A partner of MCF since 2018, Brian’s Ride Cancer Fund provides financial assistance to Mainers for costs not covered by medical insurance such as transportation and lodging needs, groceries, and home utilities.

Before heading home, we visited Northern Light AR Gould Hospital in Presque Isle, where MCF funding has supported screening and transportation services, as well as patient navigators to help guide cancer patients through the healthcare system. After meeting with staff, and getting a tour of the cancer unit, we were headed home.

Tri for a Cure is no small feat, consisting of a 1/3-mile swim, a 15-mile bike, and a 3-mile run, but the money raised by these participants goes even further – to every town, county, and community in Maine. Even to the most northeastern point in the United States.

-Ray and Brian

Ray Ruby, Executive Director and Brian McKeown, Marketing and Communications, Maine Cancer Foundation