AUGUSTA — Seeing his late grandmother Lois Lajoie suffer from the effects of breast cancer, Casey Gallant wanted to do something to help make her feel better.

So the 14-year-old ran in her honor, racking up more than 150 miles by August in running races across the state. Hearing about her grandson’s exploits did indeed bring joy to Lajoie, even during some of the toughest days of her long battle with the disease, before her death, Sept. 10 at the age of 67.

“It made her happy, she was very excited about it, very grateful,” Casey’s dad, Ryan, said. “Hearing about what he was doing, it was one of the few things that still made her smile, toward the end.”

But Casey decided he wanted to do more. So, on his own, he researched how to put on a 5K running race, and put together an entire race to honor his late “Nannie,” Miles Across Maine for Breast Cancer Awareness, which, he said, will be annual event and, as it did this year, raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer.

Casey Gallant of Augusta said he thinks about his grandmother while he runs.

“She has always motivated me, even when she was sick,” Casey said Saturday before the 5K race and 1-mile walk that together drew more than 100 participants Saturday. “She was so kind to us.”

Between registration fees and money raised in a raffle of numerous items donated by local businesses and residents, the event raised $4,500, which will be donated to the MaineGeneral Health Walk for Hope.

Between Saturday’s event and Casey’s previous fundraising to fight cancer, he raised a total of about $7,000, according to his aunt, Stacy Kennard, of Augusta.

“He’s got a heart of gold,” Kennard said of Casey, who attends St. Michael School. “He’s such a sweet boy. He never left his Nannie without giving her a big hug and telling her he loved her.”

She said she thought it was amazing a 14-year-old could, and would, organize a race on his own.

On Saturday, though, Casey was far from alone. Ryan Gallant said about 20 other family members were participating in the event. Most, if not all, of them were clad in pink “Miles Across Maine,” T-shirts. Casey wore a t-shirt that said “Tough Guys Wear Pink.”

Casey ran in the race himself, coming in third, but not before also serving as the race’s starter, blowing an air horn to signal the start of the race, then dropping it and taking off running across a field and into the woods outside the University of Maine at Augusta.

Other races he’s competed in this year included the Beach to Beacon, and Tough Mountain Challenge, in which competitors race 5 kilometers up and down a mountain, and over obstacles, at Sunday River. Casey came in first in his age group in that challenge, and 10th overall. He also competed Friday, the day before his own race, in the Kennebec Valley YMCA’s Rise ‘n Shine 5K Road Race, coming in seventh overall, out of more than 150 competitors, and first in his age class.

Most racers and walkers at Saturday’s Miles Across Maine for Breast Cancer Awareness wore Mickey Mouse ears, in recognition of Lajoie’s love for Disney.

Ryan Gallant said the last couple of months have been tough, but Miles Across Maine has given the family something to focus on, together, as they mourn the loss of Lajoie.


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