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December 16. 2012 6:18PM

Newmarket company organizes race for Hurricane Sandy relief


Hundreds of runners and walkers brave the elements during Disaster Relief 5K Road Race in Exeter Dec. 2 to help those who still are recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Altogether, they raised more than $7,400, which was donated to the American Red Cross. (COURTESY)

EXETER - A Newmarket company decided to organize a late-year "pop-up race" that helped raise more than $7,400 to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy and other disasters.

LOCO Sports Inc., which organizes 13 races throughout New England annually, presented the Disaster Relief 5K Road Race, which started and ended at the local Margaritas Restaurant on Dec. 2, according to Arlon Chaffee, who co-founded LOCO Sports with Mike and Linda St. Laurent.

"This is the first time we've done it," Chaffee said, adding unlike other races, all of the proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross.

Chaffee said more than 550 runners and walkers participated in the event, which raised $6,200 in registration fees and another $1,150 from donations. He said the Red Cross was surprised by the donation, which will help those who were affected by disasters like Sandy, a hurricane which struck just before Halloween.

While it was put together in three weeks, Chaffee said they tapped into their support network and found other companies willing to help out with the event. He said it wouldn't have been as fun or successful without their support.

Chaffee said participants enjoyed some yogurt from Stonyfield Farms and fajitas served outside Margarita's Restaurant, creating a party-like atmosphere for all.

"Everybody chipped in," he said, adding many companies donated their services while others offered significant discounts which kept overhead low. Chaffee also thanked Nuvision Action Image, Yankee Timing, Serigraphics, Exeter Events & Tents, Szeliga Racing Services, Exeter Hospital and Dave's Septic Services for helping make the event memorable.?"We throw parties and races break out," Chaffee said.

This is one of the many generous donations which will be used to provide immediate emergency needs such as food, assistance for clothing, bedding, shelter and emotional support to the victims of disasters, including thousands of people impacted by Sandy, according to Lisa Michaud, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.

Since the hurricane struck, Michaud said volunteers from the Red Cross served more than 8.2 million meals in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention, handed out more than 6.2 million cold weather items and cleaning supplies, and provided more than 94,000 health services and emotional support contacts for people who have been living in very tough conditions.

She said the Red Cross has mobilized more than 15,300 trained workers to help with recovery efforts.

"About 90 percent of them are volunteers from all over the country, including nearly 50 from New Hampshire," Michaud said.

Michaud said about 2,200 volunteers are working in shelters, providing food and water at fixed sites and driving through neighborhoods to distribute meals and supplies in areas affected by Sandy.

For more information, visit LOCO Sport's website at: http://locoraces.com/ or American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/nh.



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