This summer, thousands of cyclists and volunteers in Maine will participate in the 2022 Trek Across Maine. As we look forward to the warm weather, now is the time to sign up for the Trek and support healthy lungs everywhere.

A group of riders pedals down Waterville Road as they leave Norridgewock and head toward Colby College during the Trek Across Maine in 2018. Taking place every summer, the Trek is the American Lung Association’s single largest fundraising event in the United States. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel, File

For years now, we’ve dealt with the consequences of COVID-19, a respiratory virus that wreaks havoc on the lungs. In severe cases, the coronavirus may cause long-lasting lung complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis and even acute respiratory distress syndrome. Even mild cases of COVID-19 can bring a wide range of breathing problems, making it difficult for people to live “normal” lives. When our airways are affected, everything else becomes a struggle.

That’s why it has never been more important to promote lung health. Mainers and visitors “from away” are fortunate to have access to such beautiful outdoor spaces in Vacationland, where they can breathe in the fresh air and reap nature’s many benefits. We need to take advantage of the great outdoors, leaving the house and clearing out our airways.

Nearly half of all Americans live with unhealthy air, making it harder to breathe. In Maine, we sit at the end of the “tailpipe” for air quality, with prevailing winds from other parts of the country affecting our air quality by bringing harmful airborne particles and other forms of pollution here. What happens away from Maine affects us locally.

Clean air is essential for healthy lungs, especially during a pandemic. In 2020, the American Lung Association launched a $25 million initiative to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory virus pandemics. A major part of supporting the association’s mission is the Trek Across Maine. The Trek is the association’s single largest fundraising event in the United States, and has raised more than $30 million over the last four decades. Maine should be proud of that contribution to public health.

COVID-19 has affected our fundraising efforts the past two years, and we need your help in achieving this year’s goal of raising $1 million. To date, Trek riders and volunteers have raised nearly $140,000, but we need more – we need your help. For those interested, there are volunteer opportunities available. There is also a “virtual” Trek for those who are not joining in person.


The Trek is personal for me, like it is for so many people who participate. I got involved during the first year that I was dating my wife, joining her and my future in-laws. It was the ideal family outing. Honestly, the riders and volunteers make the Trek feel like a family reunion. You’re raising money, talking to people and learning more about the healthy lungs we all need.

The Trek Across Maine and the American Lung Association’s broader mission have only grown in importance to me. My motivation to support the Lung Association increased when my father developed and ultimately passed away because of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease that blocks airflow and inhibits breathing in several ways. When you ride, you encounter so, so many people who have directly or indirectly struggled with lung-related issues. They ride with heavy hearts, but also with their heads held high, knowing that the Trek makes a tangible difference in people’s lives.

Not only that, but the Trek fosters a sense of community that brings joy and optimism to the masses on their bikes. It is distinctly Maine, where the bonds of community already matter more than in other states. And it’s just a lot of fun!

As we look ahead to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the perfect antidote is the Trek Across Maine. All at once, you’ll find yourself exercising outside, interacting with others and making connections that may last a lifetime.

So join us. Come take a ride, starting in Brunswick and spanning the entire state. Support healthy lungs in Maine and across America.

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