, Newburyport, MA


April 7, 2013

Amesbury fundraiser benefits longtime cross-country coach

AMESBURY — They ran, they walked, they jumped and they threw for 12 straight hours at the Amesbury High track Saturday — all to help out friend, mentor, longtime Amesbury cross-country coach Mike Farmer.

“All the love he has given over the years is coming back to him today,” Amesbury indoor and outdoor track coach Ernie Bissaillon said of Farmer, who is currently battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Farmer’s diagnosis prompted his friends and rivals to put on a Miles For Mike Relay, which pulled together all the Cape Ann League track programs to help with Farmer’s day-to-day living expenses.

“Mike is a self-employed carpenter,” said Bissaillon. “Unlike me, who has sick days because I work for the school system, undergoing all the chemotherapy and the things that he is doing, it’s hard for him to work during the day. So that’s why we put on this benefit. All the funds will just go directly to him. Every last penny is going to him.”

Local companies such as Fitzgerald Real Estate, Jackson Lumber and Millworks, the Barking Dog, Merrimack Valley Glass and Mirror, Amesbury Chevrolet, New Balance, Latitudes and the Hollow Café either donated money or were on hand to help Farmer, who will also be undergoing stem cell and bone marrow transplantation in the near future.

“It’s heartwarming,” Farmer’s Newburyport rival of 20 years, Don Hennigar, said of the turnout. “Mike’s done so much for so many people for so long that this is awesome.”

“Mike is the sort of person, if somebody needed something and he could get it for them, he would, and they would never know about it,” said Bissaillon. “He was always there for people.”

Current Amesbury outdoor and indoor track team captain Perry Mroz, on hand to help, said that Farmer has had a great influence on him.

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