Helping people ‘feel empowered in the fight’

Helping people ‘feel empowered in the fight’

Marty Hamre

Events Director

Maine Cancer Foundation

Marty Hamre, who grew up in Ohio, moved to Maine in 1991 in “search of the beautiful landscapes captured in the L.L. Bean catalog.”

With a background in sales, business development and marketing, she started her own event management business working with area nonprofits on events, conferences and trade shows. In January 2015, Hamre transitioned from entrepreneur to become a part of the Maine Cancer Foundation team as events director, where she oversees planning and logistics for special events, including the Twilight 5K and the Tri for a Cure.

The Tri for a Cure is the Maine Cancer Foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year. According to Cullen McGough, the foundation’s director of communications and marketing, last year’s triathlon brought in some $1.4 million with 100 percent of the money raised put to work in Maine supporting a variety of cancer initiatives, including cancer research programs, public education, early detection and screening efforts, and patient impact programs to assist survivors and their families.

This year’s goal is $1.5 million. Although fundraising is an important aspect of the event, for Hamre and McGough Tri for a Cure is also an opportunity for the organization to connect with the entire community of cancer patients and survivors in Maine and invite them to make something positive out of their diagnosis.

“With 1,300 participants we reach a lot of people, who get to tell their story when they ask for a donation,” said Hamre.

When she’s not working, Hamre is out biking the “scenic Maine roads, enjoying the coast and keeping up with my two children.”

Maine Women had a chance to talk with Hamre about her job, the Maine Cancer Foundation and why Tri for a Cure is such an important event.

Q: What does being the director of events for the Maine Cancer Foundation entail? What do you love about what you do?

A: I handle the planning and logistics for the foundation’s events. I head up the Twilight 5K, which was held recently and raised $145,000. There were 750 participants and 50 volunteers that came out to support that effort. The biggest event is Tri for a Cure. I oversee other special events and third-party events, such as Mary’s Walk, that we are the beneficiaries of. I have a hand in all of them.

The greatest joy this job has for me is in knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives through event planning. The money that we raise goes to a cause that impacts so many. Every day I hear stories about how lives have been touched by what the Maine Cancer Foundation does. It’s the foundation of the work we’re doing and it’s very meaningful. Everyone knows someone touched by cancer. We hope to help as many people as we can.

Q: Why is Tri for a Cure so important and why do you think so many women participate? What is the foundation’s goal for this year’s race?

A: Tri for a Cure is one of the top three fundraising races in Maine. The event is our chance to celebrate with the entire community and with women and their families, and give them an opportunity to have a voice in the fight against cancer. It’s important to keep spreading the word and awareness about cancer and what we do and how we help. It gives women a chance to make a difference, especially when they are participating for someone who is battling cancer. Often friends and family members feel helpless. This gives them a way to feel that they are doing something. It empowers women and gives them unbelievable strength. It’s amazing to watch.

The goal of this year’s event is $1.5 million. The money goes to three key targets: fostering prevention practices, increasing cancer screenings, and improving patient outcomes. Maine lives matter. We really want to reach the greatest number of those affected in Maine. The foundation supports efforts to improve outcomes through patient impact programs and investment in scientific research for the next generation of treatments. Grant proposals and requests come in (to Maine Cancer Foundation) and are reviewed by a committee and our program manager. Needs are constantly changing.

Q: What is the most challenging part of putting together an event such as Tri for a Cure?

A: This is the biggest event I’ve ever done. There are 1,300 participants, 500 volunteers and 1,500 spectators. Just managing all the logistical pieces, from ordering shirts to parking to crowd control and overall event management is a challenge. Making sure that everyone has a great day and event is important – I want it to be meaningful for everyone involved. We put a lot of thought into how to make it meaningful. All the pieces have to work together to make it come off smoothly. Communication is key, keeping in touch with everyone and giving everyone a voice. The goal overall is to create an event that gives people a voice in the fight against cancer.

Q: Why should people get involved with Maine Cancer Foundation? What does Tri for a Cure, and the work you do, mean to you on a personal and professional level?

A: Cancer is the No. 1 killer in Maine and Maine cancer rates are significantly higher than the national average. We are committed to the quality of life in Maine, which means we need screening and prevention. Through this event we reach so many. It’s a wonderful opportunity to educate about cancer and how to live a healthier lifestyle with cancer prevention.

On a personal level, it is so overwhelming and amazing to see how many people have been touched by cancer and that on some small level, and even though I am not a health professional, I can use my experience to help and to provide an outlet to help people feel empowered in the fight.

Marty Hamre is the events director for the Maine Cancer Foundation. Hamre oversees the logistics for the foundation’s events, including the Tri for a Cure triathlon. Courtesy photo

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