So many of our local traditions and activities have been altered, postponed, or outright canceled due to the pandemic. However, some local organizations have innovated, created, and brainstormed to keep some of our local traditions alive during this most uncertain time.
The Falmouth Walk is one of those organizations. Dating back to its inception in 1991, when Falmouth legends Eddie Doyle and Tommy Leonard hatched the idea of a walk on the day before the Falmouth Road Race to raise money for the Babe Ruth World Series, the Falmouth Walk has become a road race weekend tradition for generations of Falmouthites. In the years since its founding the walk, like its founders, has become legendary in our community, raising funds for more than a dozen organizations that benefit every corner of our community in many ways. Last year’s race raised more than $39,000 to fund organizations that support nonprofit missions and activities.
Many of the 13 organizations that benefit from the walk rely on the funds raised for their important and charitable works. This year, those contributions are even more critical. As it became clear that this year’s walk would not go forward, the volunteers who make up the committee that organizes the walk, itself a charitable organization, realized that they needed to continue the good works that Tommy and Eddie began.
Co-founder Eddie Doyle, noting the impact of COVID-19 but also the importance of the charitable work of the walk, explained the thinking behind the changes and innovation for this year’s walk. He remarked on the walk’s website that, “It is a very difficult time for everyone right now. COVID-19 has impacted us in ways we could never have imagined. People are suffering, physically, emotionally, and financially. We are challenged as we protect one another through social distancing and yet we crave social connections like never before. Large gatherings are off the table but we long for a semblance of normalcy—so let’s try something in between.”
That something in between is the inaugural and first-ever virtual Falmouth Walk. Our community always seems to rally together in difficult times, and the leaders of the walk have not only embraced the organizations they support, they are offering us all the chance to offer a virtual community hug by participating in this great event. This year, instead of 400-plus walkers taking the journey together, participants are encouraged to create their own 5K routes and walk them on August 15, Tommy’s birthday. Registrants receive a bib just as if they were walking the regular route, along with raffle entries. Because the businesses who normally support the raffles are also struggling through the current uncertainty, committee members came up with the idea of purchasing the gift cards from the businesses who would normally donate them. “They are suffering too, and this is our way to support the businesses who support the community,” said walk vice president Russ Pelletier. This year, the Falmouth Walk committee is finding multiple ways to recycle the generosity that has become the hallmark of the walk.
Registrations are still available on the Falmouth Walk website at www.falmouthwalk.org. The 2020 goal of 400 walkers has nearly been reached, but the organizing team welcomes as many participants as possible. Those who sign up now may not have a T-shirt in time for the walk, but are still encouraged to participate and share in this lasting tradition. The website also includes some of the walk’s traditional live auction items. The auction is open now and bids are welcome, or supporters can simply log on and donate.
Walk president Tom Walrath noted to me that the Falmouth Walk captures the “true spirit of our community.” That spirit is undeterred by the current pandemic, and will continue to inspire hundreds of locals and visitors alike to log their 5K walk to support the legacy of Tommy and Eddie’s brainstorm and its enduring impact on some of our friends and neighbors who are most in need.