Ashley Potvin-Fulford (left) talks shop with Biddeford cross country head coach Chris Quint (right) during “A Running Passion’s” second ‘Shoe Night’ at the Olympia Sports in Biddeford. The non-profit organization sold shoes to 145 kids from surrounding towns last week (COURTESY PHOTO)

BIDDEFORD – As an avid runner, Ashley Potvin-Fulford knows the importance of having a stable pair of running shoes.

A good set of shoes, though, can put a dent in your wallet. So, in an effort to encourage kids who have shown an interest in the sport, Potvin-Fulford started “A Running Passion.”

 The nonprofit held its second annual “Shoe Night” at its partner Biddeford Olympia Sports on Sept. 9. About 150 young runners from surrounding towns such as Arundel, Saco and Kennebunk, left with a new, affordable pair of 

“One assumption that people make in regards to track and field and cross country is that it’s cheap,” said Potvin-Fulford, who coaches the University of New England women’s rugby team. “It can get expensive over time, especially for people who put in a lot of mileage. You go through three or four pairs of shoes a year and when you spend $125 a pair, that adds up.”

Potvin-Fulford started “A Running Passion” with a mission to help carry on the legacy of former Biddeford High cross country coach Will Fulford. Fulford, Potvin-Fulford’s husband, died of cardiac arrest in 2016 at the age of 29.

Current Biddeford coach Chris Quint and members of the Tigers cross country team, as well as UNE’s cross country squad, provided a helping hand – and foot – on Shoe Night. Every Biddeford High team is responsible for doing at least one community service event during the season, and Quint decided the shoe event would be one of their efforts to give back to the community. The Tigers helped Olympia Sports staff checked-in  or supporting the Olympia staff. 


Families paid $20 per child and shoe specialists attended to each visitor to determine what pair fit best for the athlete. At the end of the event, 145 kids left Olympia Sports with a new pair of running shoes, socks, healthy snacks and a bag. Last year, about 100 youth took advantage, said Potvin-Fulford, who was happy that word has continued to spread.  

Shoe Night, Quint said, helps bring the community together, and the event strengthens the running culture that he hopes to continue developing with his team.

“The big focus of what Ashley’s doing is to not only keep Will’s spirit and philosophy alive, it’s to continue to promote and encourage kids to run,” Quint said. “Part of what I’m trying to do is to build a running program here in Biddeford. And what better way than to have our athletes go and talk to these kids at this event.”

Potvin-Fulford said the most rewarding part of Shoe Night is hearing from the student-athletes after the event about their accomplishments while wearing their new attire.

“I love this particular event with the elementary school students because it allows us to reach out to that younger group,” she said. “I think that one of the things we try to do as an organization is to get people excited about running. It’s a life-long sport, and I think getting kids excited about the sport at a young age is good for them.” 


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