44-Point trek to inspire giving

BAR HARBOR — A 44-point fundraising trek across eastern Mount Desert Island will be undertaken by College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92 and a team of alumni in an effort to encourage record alumni giving.

Collins and his team will set out at sunrise on June 11 and mark 44 stops atop mountains, at locations downtown and along the ocean throughout the day in order to inspire 44 percent of alumni to make a gift to the college before the end of the fiscal year. In support of this inaugural Relay for COA, alumna Abby Rowe ’99 has pledged $15,000 to the college if alumni meet the 44 percent goal.

Alumni giving, which last year topped 40 percent during Collins’ hike of 40 peaks in Acadia National Park, is an important metric for grant makers and ranking organizations.

“There are two main things I’m keeping in mind as I set out on this journey,” Collins said. “One is surpassing our alumni fundraising totals. The other, and just as important to consider, is enjoying this place that we love so much and getting to see it from a really unique and adventurous perspective.”

Starting at the college’s iconic whale skull as the sun rises, the relay participants will traverse carriage trails, head over mountain peaks and follow the shoreline. While Collins intends to do the entire trek, alumni can choose to do one or more legs of the adventure. These legs vary in intensity from the steep climb up the east face of Cadillac to the more social and rejuvenating coffee stop at Choco-Latté, owned by alumnus Michael Boland ‘94.

The 30-mile route, which ends with a bike ride down Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and back to COA’s campus, builds on Collins’ 40-peak hike last summer. Mike Staggs ‘96, Shawn Keeley ‘00 and Sarah Keeley ’05 have joined in this year to help plan the event. They also will participate along the route.

“Darron’s epic adventure to inspire alumni to support the annual fund last year looked like so much fun that we wanted join the effort this year and help COA reach 44 percent alumni giving,” Shawn Keeley said.

Alumni and students can join for one or more legs and ask friends to pledge a gift in honor of the effort. To sign up for a leg of the relay, visit Gifts to COA can be made online at Volunteers to assist with logistics, including water refills and bicycle transportation, also are needed.

Progress will be tracked on College of the Atlantic’s Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #relayforCOA. Alumni who don’t live on MDI can create their own relay leg on trails near their home and join in the relay virtually by posting a photo of their June 11 hike with #relayforCOA.

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