In a new chapter to keep the Millinocket Memorial Library open, a “Sponsor a Mile” campaign is aiming to raise as much as $500,000 for a major library renovation, when as many as 2,500 racers from around the world come next month to run 26.2 or 13.1 miles in the Millinocket Marathon & Half, to help the old mill city.
“The ‘Sponsor a Mile’ fundraiser came about because we realized we have all the pieces in front of us to make something magic happen: 2,500 runners visiting our town to help give us a boost, a generous partner that would match our fundraising efforts, and an amazing story of perseverance, generosity, and community,” said Matt DeLaney, library director, in an e-mail.
And to mark the 98th anniversary of the library’s opening on Nov. 11, 1919, we’re announcing today that miles logged in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run can also be part of the effort to raise matching funds for the major building renovation.
For each dollar raised per mile in the real or virtual races, the Next Generation Foundation of Maine is matching, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000, to go 100% toward a $1M “Future Library Project,” which DeLaney calls a “state-of-the-art community center / digital learning lab / youth hangout / learning hub / imagination lab in Millinocket!” He added, “If we have 2,500 marathon runners and each of them finds just 4 people to donate $1 / mile for 26 miles, that will result in $260,000 towards the Future Library Project! When you add in the matching funds, that is over $500,000!”
The library was on the brink of closing forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial troubles. But a campaign to raise $30,000, including $10,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, helped keep the library doors open, as a starting step. And the last 2 years, runners in the Millinocket Marathon & Half have helped raise funds online for the library, with the campaign cumulatively raising more than $9,000 so far.
“Next Generation is supporting us because we told them our story about losing almost all funding due to an economic crisis in the region, and then having the community rally together and reopen the library on an almost completely volunteer basis,” said DeLaney. “We have told our story to many partners and have experienced profound generosity from our community and from around the state.”
In announcing the up to $250,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant under the headline, “Sponsor a mile to save the Millinocket Library,” the library suggests a $1 to $10 pledge per mile for the 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile real-life races. But DeLaney said that isn’t set in stone. If a virtual racer completes the 200-mile Cadillac to Katahdin route and finds a sponsor for 10 cents a mile for $20, for example, that can qualify for the Next Generation Foundation of Maine match as well, he said.
“There is no minimum or maximum. If they can find sponsors for 200 miles, that’s even better! The goal is to raise as much money as possible and leave no matching funds on the table,” DeLaney said. And if you want to sponsor virtual racers but don’t know their real names, that’s not a problem, either.
More than 130 participants have been logging miles from around the world on the virtual Cadillac to Katahdin route, to help raise funds for the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. Racers can sign up for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run through Dec. 9, the date of the real-life Millinocket races, and they can backdate their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, to Aug. 15. Participants or volunteers in the real-life MDI or Millinocket events get special pricing for the virtual race.
So far, the virtual racers have logged more than 25,000 cumulative miles. Today, we pledge at least 1 cent per mile for all miles logged on the virtual race route by Dec. 9, 11:59 p.m. EST, as part of our Millinocket Memorial Library donation. That means anyone who is already in the race will be helping to raise funds for the match, even if they’ve already finished the 200-mile route and are onto the second lap. And that means anyone new signing up will add to the pennies per mile commitment as well.
And if you’re a virtual racer who wants to pledge so much per mile that you’ve run or walked, or you want to sponsor a virtual racer whose real name you don’t know, you can do so by printing out this form. While the Millinocket Memorial Library has an online pledge form, it’s more designed for sponsorship of real-life Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon racers, as the drop-down menu for number of miles is capped at 26.2 miles, even though, as DeLaney said, there is no minimum or maximum pledge per mile, or number of miles.