Friday, December 6, 2013
By Eric Russell firstname.lastname@example.org
A bitter falling-out between the original organizers of the Run for the Fallen has caused the dissolution of the annual event to raise money for families of Maine soldiers killed in combat.
In this 2011 file photo, runners take off at the start of the Fourth Annual 5K Run for the Fallen. The event raises funds for military families who have lost a loved one, but the fifth and final one is Sunday because of feuding and a lawsuit.
At the 2011 Run for the Fallen, Kathy McDonald of Casco has a moment of silence for her son, Sgt. Edmund W. McDonald, who was killed while in service in Kabul on March 28, 2007. Kathy and her family gathered on Route 1 in Saco while they waited to thank runners, and to begin their own run in honor of Ed.
Jill Brady/Staff Photographer
Sunday's Run for the Fallen will be the fifth and final noncompetitive run from Ogunquit to Portland, said its founder, John Mixon.
Mixon, a Vietnam veteran, said he plans to keep his nonprofit organization alive and continue helping families of fallen soldiers, but he's tired of dealing with small-town politics in his hometown of Ogunquit. A pending lawsuit also has affected his decision, he said.
It all started in 2008, when Mixon and Robert Winn launched Run for the Fallen. Mixon wanted to do something for military families who had lost loved ones. Winn, a decorated runner for decades, had experience with organizing races.
After that first year, Winn raised questions about how his friend was running the event and managing the finances of the fledgling nonprofit organization, said David Lourie, Winn's attorney.
Winn quit. Mixon kept the event going on his own, with help from volunteers.
But rumors began to surface that Mixon was mismanaging funds. Those rumors were traced back to Winn, a town councilor, and his girlfriend, Diana Allen, who serves on the school board, according to a defamation-of-character lawsuit filed by Mixon last year in York County Superior Court.
Mixon called the allegations against him ridiculous and said he has never taken a dime from the nonprofit.
"I don't need the money," said Mixon, a builder by trade.
Asked what he hopes to gain from the lawsuit, Mixon said: "An apology. This isn't about money."
The lawsuit, however, indicates that he is seeking unspecified damages from Winn and Allen.
Winn's lawyer said the lawsuit is absolutely about money, just not in the way Mixon thinks.
"There are so many (financial) questions about his nonprofit," Lourie said. "When this is all over, I don't think (Mixon) is going to like the outcome."
Winn declined to comment.
The only financial document that Run for the Fallen has filed with the IRS is a 2010 Form 990-n, a short form with minimal information.
To qualify to file a 990-n -- instead of a more detailed Form 990, which most nonprofits are required to file -- an organization must earn less than $50,000 a year.
Unlike Form 990, the Form 990-n does not include a detailed breakdown of revenues and expenses.
In 2011, Mixon said, his nonprofit raised $74,646. That would require him to file a Form 990, but that has not been done.
Asked about last year’s finances, Mixon said his organization spent $62,285 of the $74,646 it raised last year. Of that total, $9,607 was spent on gifts for military families who have lost loved ones, $2,500
was given out in scholarships, and $1,907 was given in additional charity.
Mixon also has used funds from Run for the Fallen to help fund the Gold Star Family license plate program, a specialty plate for veterans' families that was approved by the Maine Legislature.
Most of the nonprofit's budget is spent on the Run for the Fallen event, Mixon said. That includes the cost of printing T-shirts and putting on a lobster bake for all participants. It also pays for travel and expenses for many participants and families.
Mixon said he hopes that his legal battle won't detract from Sunday's run, which he expects to draw 250 runners. The event is scheduled to start at 7:45 at 1 Beach St. in Ogunquit.
Once it is over, Mixon plans to refocus his efforts, he said, but he isn't sure what his nonprofit organization will look like next year.
"No good deed goes unpunished," he said. "I'm trying to do something nice for these families."
Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: