The Westbrook Strong 5K, which honors Matthew Rairdon who was killed in 2013, is readying for its third annual race through downtown Westbrook.

The race has grown in popularity since its first year, and raises money for an endowment in Rairdon’s name. A scholarship is given annually to a junior or senior in the nursing program at St. Joseph’s College of Maine, the same path that Rairdon took.

The 5K is set for Saturday, July 16, at 8:30 a.m., with the starting gun going off in Riverbank Park. The race then winds through Westbrook neighborhoods between downtown and Westbrook High School. At 8 a.m., a short fun run designed for kids, dubbed “Matt’s Mile,” will also take place in the park.

Rairdon, who was 22, had recently graduated from St. Joseph’s and had been working at Mercy Hospital when he was shot and killed in November 2013. It was labled a murder-suicide by investigators.

Following the tragedy, the Rairdon family and a host of friends organized the Westbrook Strong 5K, aiming to celebrate Rairdon, who was known as a popular and beloved member of the community.

One of the race organizers and longtime friend of the family, Krista Martin, said that the first race put them over the $25,000 threshold for the endowment, guaranteeing at least a $1,000 scholarship each year. The second race last year added to the figure.

Rairdon’s father, Gary Rairdon, said Tuesday that this year’s scholarship, given to St. Joseph’s Melissa Smith, was for $1,300.

Rairdon, who has served as a Westbrook city councilor since 2013, said there are currently 182 racers registered, with 40 of those coming from St. Joseph’s College.

“Sponsorship is strong, and there is still a lot of excitement as far as volunteers go,” he said. “We’re grateful for any and all participants.”

During the last few weeks, Rairdon, his wife Laurie Rairdon, and other organizers have been visible in the community, hoping to gain additional support and participants for the 5K. They were featured on WLOB radio with Ray Richardson on June 15 and had their own vehicle during the Westbrook Together Days parade on June 4, displaying the Westbrook Strong 5K details.

Over the first three years of the event, the community has embraced Westbrook Strong, assisting with fundraising and getting the word out on the race. Local businesses like Mister Bagel sell Westbrook Strong T-shirts for $15, with all the money going to the scholarship fund.

Rairdon said Matt Rairdon’s 25th birthday would have been July 17.

There is still ample time to sign up for the race, he said. For more information, or to register for the race, visit www.westbrookstrong.org.

Gary Rairdon waves at the crowd during this year’s Together Days parade in Westbrook, from inside a truck advertising the Westbrook Strong 5K, scheduled for Saturday, July 16 in downtown Westbrook.

Gary Rairdon stands in front of a Westbrook Strong truck used in the Together Days parade in early June. A large photo of Matthew Rairdon is affixed on the front.


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