- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—PARIS — The Navy SEALs are back to bring sunshine to a group of children with life-threatening illnesses.

This time, the elite team is taking on a reverse triathlon that will include a run down the tallest mountain in the Northeast, an 83.4-mile bicycle ride through Oxford County and a swim across part of Sebago Lake to raise funds and awareness for Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses.

This is the second year the SEALs have come to Maine for the effort.

Eight active-duty Navy SEALs will meet the Summit to Sunshine Challenge on Thursday, July 30, beginning with a 7.6-mile run down the Mt. Washington Auto Road, covering 6,300 vertical feet, followed by the bike ride from New Hampshire to Camp Mataponi on Sebago Lake in Naples. The SEALs will then swim 3.9 miles, landing at the Point Sebago Resort beach, next to Camp Sunshine.

Along the way, organizers hope the SEALs will encounter an outpouring of support from Oxford County residents and visitors who are expected to line the Route 26 bicycle route.

Last year, four Navy SEALs swam 13 miles in Sebago Lake for Camp Sunshine, raising more than $80,000 to bring 40 military families to a Camp Sunshine session this year.

The founder of SEALs for Camp Sunshine — Navy SEAL Cmdr. Mike W., a Windham native whose last name cannot be revealed because of his active duty status — said he was struggling with how to give back to the community before he decided to help raise funds for Camp Sunshine. Another Mainer, Lew E., who is originally from Westbrook, signed on, as did two others from other parts of the country.

This year, twice as many Navy SEALs are expected to participate in the challenge to raise more than $100,000 for the camp that was founded in 1984 on the banks of Sebago Lake in Casco. It serves sick children and their families from around the world. Services are free and include 24-hour medical and psychosocial support and private family suites, paid for with donations and supported by a staff of more than 80.

Bill Kennedy of Otisfield, an event volunteer, said he has been met with great enthusiasm from everyone he has talked to about the event.

Kennedy said the SEALs’ run down Mt. Washington will start at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, July 30, arriving at the Glen House at about 7 a.m. From there, the SEALs will hop on bicycles and, with a Maine State Police escort, will ride across Route 2 through Gorham and Shelburne, N.H., and into Gilead, arriving there between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m., and on through Bethel between 8:30 and 9 a.m.

From Bethel, they will travel down Route 26 into Locke Mills and West Paris about 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and into Paris from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. They are scheduled to stop at Moore Park for a 15-to-20 minute rest, where several hundred invited guests will be waiting.

The SEALs will continue on Route 26 through Norway and Oxford, passing by the American Legion on King Street from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. and then go up Megquire Hill Road into Poland, turn right at the intersection of Route 11 and travel south to Route 302 in Naples. They will ride to Route 114 in Casco where they will go to Camp Mataponi and swim 3.9 miles to the beach at Point Sebago Resort, where a large group is expected to be on hand for their arrival.

“For this SEALs team and for Camp Sunshine’s families — failure is not an option,” Mike W. said in a press release.

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