RUSTY RANCOURT, left, and Rusty Wilkins have teamed up to bring runners this Saturday’s Rusty Rolls 5K run/walk race. The run/walk takes place on Saturday at Topsham’s Foreside Field.

RUSTY RANCOURT, left, and Rusty Wilkins have teamed up to bring runners this Saturday’s Rusty Rolls 5K run/walk race. The run/walk takes place on Saturday at Topsham’s Foreside Field.

TOPSHAM

Two guys named Rusty, separated by generation and geographical upbringing, share a mutual love of sports and helping people.

Once they recognized their mutual interests, they decided to put their inspiration and aspirations into reality. Together, they organized the inaugural Rusty Rolls 5K to benefit the American Cancer Society. Neither Rusty knew each other until a mutual friend suggested they team up.

The Rusty Rolls 5K run/walk race will take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Topsham Rec Foreside Field. There is plenty of parking. The Track Sound will provide live entertainment and Rusty’s Market will provide free food. All participants will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win valuable prizes. More than 25 prizes will be raffled off.

The cost for the race is $15 for an individual and $25 for a family. Relay teams of three people are encouraged to register. The first 100 registrants will receive commemorative T-shirts and a goodie bag provided by Androscoggin Bank.

Registration forms can be downloaded at www.mtasports.com.

Rusty-Rusty

Rusty Rancourt was born in Augusta before moving to Brunswick. He graduated from Brunswick High School in 1960. He worked for Howard Johnson’s for several years, an iconic mom and pop store famously known for its hot dogs. Never shy about sharing his opinions, Rancourt made sure a trip to Rusty’s guaranteed a discussion about the hot topic of the day.

He became one of the epicenters of grassroots politics in Topsham for over 40 years. Located at the corner of Middlesex and Tedford Roads, a cast of characters that included good old boys, college professors, teenagers and just regular people gathered to discuss everything from sports to finance to local and national politics. Everyone always departed with a smile on their face.

Rancourt was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. He was lucky enough to get a bone marrow transplant just three months later. Since then, he has continued to battle the disease. He has his good days and bad days, but his optimism never wavers. He wants to pay back for all the help friends and strangers alike have given him over the years.

Rusty Wilkins is a senior at Mt. Ararat High School. He was born in the state of Washington. His dad is a military veteran, having served several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. His mom also served in the military, but she has strong Maine roots. She was born in Maine and her dad was a long time Professor of the Classics at the University of Southern Maine. Wilkins, who has cerebral palsy, followed his dad around the country as he was restationed. Four years ago, his dad retired from the military and settled in Topsham.

One of the requirements to graduate from Mt. Ararat is to complete a Capstone Project, which demonstrates an activity outside of normal course work that a student is interested in. Wilkins chose to organize a road race. He has a background in road racing. His cousin, James Anderson, was a four-year track star at the University of New Hampshire.

After James graduated, inspired by www.TeamHoyt.com, he asked Wilkins if he would like to compete in races with him. Rusty lit up with excitement at the chance and the two have been racing ever since. At first, they borrowed a racing wheel chair from TeamHoyt.com, but last year he fundraised to buy his own racing wheel chair, which cost $7,000.

With the help of his classmates at MTA and other generous donors, Wilkins covered the cost and now has his own racing wheel chair. He and James have since completed several 5K and 10K races and two marathons (both in under four hours). They recently were selected to compete in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and Virginia, which passes through Arlington National Cemetery, where two of Wilkins’ grandparents are buried.

Wilkins wants to become a professional fundraiser by organizing road races to benefit various charities. He has had a grandfather, grandmother and an uncle who died from cancer.

The two Rustys mutually agreed that the benefits from the inaugural Rusty Rolls 5K would be donated to the American Cancer Society. They approached Joe McBride, the manager of the renovated Rusty’s Market, and asked him if he would be willing to help sponsor the race. McBride saw the natural connection and quickly agreed to help.

“This is exactly the type of event we want to help with,” said McBride. “It brings the community together and makes us stronger.”

When Brian Casalinova, the Community Special Events Manager for the American Cancer Society, heard about the race, he immediately offered his help promoting the race and providing volunteers. He said, “The American Cancer Society hopes this becomes an annual event. Both Rustys show the dedication and fortitude it will take to conquer cancer.”


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