It’s one thing to raise money for a good cause.

Zoe Romano, a 23-year-old from Portland, is going all out. She’s training to run coast to coast to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.

Romano will start the run next month in Huntington Beach, Calif., and run to Charleston, S.C. – an estimated 3,000-mile trek. Her goal is to raise $25,000 for the local chapter and national organization.

Romano said Monday night that she’s excited to lace up her sneakers and go.

“I want to wake up every day and have nothing to do but run,” she said. “To have no schedule, except to put one foot in front of the other. I want to meet new people, see new landscapes and propel myself to run across the country 25 miles at a time. I don’t know if it gets any better than that.”

Romano, a 2005 graduate of Portland High School, has been training since June. She began running six miles a day and gradually increased her mileage to 22 miles a day, running in the morning and at night.

“I’m not nervous about running,” she said. “I’m very determined. It’s the logistics that keep me up.”

Romano trains with a baby stroller, which will hold her clothing and camping gear. She has contacted Boys & Girls Clubs along the route for help with lodging and is using Couch Surfing, an organization that connects travelers with local members of a community who provide free accommodations.

Romano’s parents have helped her organize the logistics of the trip. Her father, Rick Romano, said they are building a web of connections along her route, contacting local running clubs and police departments to provide support.

“We’re concerned about her safety, naturally,” he said. “She’s up for the challenge. Everything Zoe has ever set out to do in her life, she has done with great energy and gusto. I’m extremely proud and happy for her.”

Romano began volunteering for the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Riverton Park Clubhouse on Monday. She said she decided to raise money for the organization to help make a difference in the lives of kids who go there. She has already raised $1,000, which she presented to the board of directors last month.

“Almost all of my mentors in life have told me of their days at the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Romano said. “Every one knows school is important. Kids’ time out of school is important, too.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine has four clubs in Portland and one in Auburn. Ann Messinger, the development director, said Romano’s fundraiser will support the clubs’ core youth development programs, which include a daily healthy snack, providing help with homework and teaching kids fitness and life skills.

“It’s always a challenge to meet our fundraising goals. Zoe is helping us to meet that challenge in a major away,” Messinger said. “Zoe is an amazing person for doing this. Her spirit and character is very inspiring for our club members.”


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]