AMESBURY — Amesbury track coach Ernie Bissaillon jokes that the hardest part about hosting a fundraiser for Mike Farmer was telling Mike Farmer.
Bissaillon and Newburyport cross-country coach Don Hennigar are organizing a Miles For Mike fundraiser for Farmer, a 20-year Amesbury cross-country coach who has been battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma off and on since 2003. The benefit will be a 12-hour relay April 6 at Amesbury High Track. Participants can run, walk, or support the fundraiser in any way they wish.
Bissaillon spearheaded the planning after the indoor season when Farmer, an assistant indoor track coach at Amesbury, missed several practices due to his chemotherapy treatments. Knowing Farmer as a quiet, unassuming man who never wishes to bring attention to himself, Bissaillon waited to tell his assistant about the fundraiser until all of the plans were in place.
“Mike never really wants credit for anything,” Bissaillon said. “About a week ago, I finally told him, and he didn’t give me any resistance. I know he’s appreciative in his own humble way. It’s a chance to give back to someone who has given so much to the kids at Amesbury.”
Farmer has been involved with the Amesbury cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track teams for the better part of the last 20 years, in addition to being a self-employed carpenter. His wife, Gail, works at Cider Hill Farm during the spring, summer and fall. The family’s medical expenses have become exorbitant in recent months due to Mike’s chemotherapy at Mass. General Hospital and two pending bone marrow transplants in the next 10 weeks.
“I really had no idea they were doing this for me,” Farmer said. “I’m not surprised by the support, but I’m surprised about the fundraiser. I appreciate it, but it’s not something I was looking for.”