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Virtual Islesboro Crossing for LifeFlight raises $300,000

Sep 14, 2020
St George Sailing School instructors completed the Crossing for LifeFlight in sailboats.

Camden — In its eighth season, LifeFlight’s annual fundraising event, the Islesboro Crossing, tried a whole new approach. With the pandemic restrictions on large groups and social distancing in full force, the traditional gathering of hundreds of athletes, safety teams, volunteers and spectators wasn’t possible for this year’s open water swim across Penobscot Bay from Northport to Islesboro. Instead, participants spread out across Maine to complete “crossings” on their own. With the focus on individuals instead of the single destination of Islesboro, the event was dubbed the iX2020 and participants embraced the theme of “connecting the corners of Maine.” Much like LifeFlight connects critically ill patients to the care they need, participants sought to connect the corners of Maine with hundreds of individual crossings covering 15 Maine counties as well as New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Normally reserved just for swimmers, iX2020 encouraged participants to complete their crossing by swimming, paddling, biking, hiking, running, sailing and more. A record number of participants registered for iX2020, despite the uncertainty, isolation, economic strife and devastating loss from an unfamiliar and unrelenting disease.

The minimum fundraising requirement was waived this year, however participants still raised more than $300,000 for LifeFlight. That’s about 65% of last year’s event total.

The event has always focused on the physical challenge of swimming three miles across the open ocean, and how that effort mirrors the challenges of providing emergency care to rural Maine communities. Although most participants couldn’t complete their crossing in Penobscot Bay this year, there were plenty of examples of physical challenges.

Port Clyde resident Madelyn Rockwell, who has been a support paddler in the past, decided to embrace the opportunity and completed 20 miles of paddling and 10 miles of walking. Then she topped it off with a 100-mile bike ride. Roseangela Merianos, a healthcare worker in Maine, created her own triathlon: a three-mile swim, a six-mile run, a 12-mile bike ride, plus a bonus 15-mile, three-mountain hike. Other participants chose their favorite lake to complete their three-mile swim and some decided to do multiple swims over several days to add more miles.

The switch to virtual also brought in several new teams. Joining veteran teams from Port Clyde, Islesboro and Chewonki were groups from North Haven, Isle au Haut, Grand Lake Stream and Sebec Lake. Team members trained together and set team fundraising goals.

In an effort to build an online community to match the spirit of the in-person event, LifeFlight created an interactive crossing tracker website at iX2020.islesborocrossing.org, where participants could pin their crossing location on a map, calculate the number of miles crossed, and share photos of their activity. To see photos submit by participants, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/czesxj030umvf5l/AAAZ6uhFWT0Bddz4pyrJsACka?dl=0.

The money raised at iX2020 will support LifeFlight’s capital purchases including medical equipment and replacement aircraft, as well as the organization’s education and training programs. To learn more about LifeFlight’s largest annual fundraising event, please visit www.islesborocrossing.org.

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