SEA 5K Dedicated to Longtime Volunteer

Mary Fannion poses for a photo at the SEA 5K in April. The annual road race, which benefits Operation Santa Claus, was just one area of Mary's involvement at the SEA.

Mary Fannion poses for a photo at the SEA 5K in April. The annual road race, which benefits Operation Santa Claus, was just one area of Mary’s involvement at the SEA.

When the SEA 5K steps off this year, it will be without a familiar face in attendance. Longtime volunteer Mary Fannion passed away in December.

Given Mary’s extensive involvement, the SEA’s Road Race Committee will dedicate the race to her this year. All are encouraged to come out and run or walk in her memory. Mary’s daughter, Theresa Lemear, said she appreciated the committee’s gesture and knew her mother would have, too.

“I’m so glad they’re doing that for her,” Lemear said. “She’d be beaming from ear to ear about that. She’d say, ‘you don’t have to, but that’s very nice.’”

Lemear said her mother loved being involved in the race – “she couldn’t wait for it” – especially because it benefitted Operation Santa Claus.

“It was her big thing,” she said. “She was a single parent and had three kids. It was very hard, and she knew how hard it is for parents who can’t afford gifts for their kids. That’s why she did a lot of volunteering.”

Mary’s passion for the SEA 5K was infectious. Lemear said she and her family loved taking part in the race.

“We’re very proud of her for it,” she said. “We’re all going to run it this year.”

Mary Hillier, a member of the Road Race Committee who served as committee chair for many years, said it was important to honor Mary Fannion’s contributions.

“As with her other union activities, she was just totally dedicated and threw herself into it,” Hillier said. “Because of that, we’re trying to put together a little bit of a commemorative display for race day, and we want to dedicate this race to her. We encourage everyone to come out and run in her memory.”

Jen Day, who worked alongside Mary Fannion for many years at the race, said Mary leaves big shoes to fill.

“She would actually take the Friday before off and help behind the scenes, picking up food and other supplies along with Joe Meagher from the SEA,” said Day, who took over as committee chair this year. “They’d make sure we had everything we needed for race day.”

On race day, Mary was always smiling and ready to do her job, Day said.

“She was very upbeat, and she knew what she was doing,” Day said. “That was her spot on race day, distributing food.”

The 21st SEA 5K Road Race and Fitness Walk is set for Saturday, April 5. You can register online at Proceeds from the race go to Operation Santa Claus.

If you’d rather not run or walk, but want to honor Mary’s memory, you can still volunteer for the race. Help is needed doing things such as registering participants, distributing T-shirts and manning water stations. If you’d like to volunteer, you can email

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