September 26, 2017

Williston runner crosses Vermont in support of refugees

Observer courtesy photo Williston runner Olivia Pintair (left) with her father, Alex, and friend Mae Burris-Wells. The trio completed the Cross Vermont Trail this week to raise awareness and funds for refugees settling in Vermont.

Observer courtesy photo
Williston runner Olivia Pintair (left) with her father, Alex, and friend Mae Burris-Wells. The trio
completed the Cross Vermont Trail this week to raise awareness and funds for refugees settling
in Vermont.

Lauren Reed

Observer correspondent

Olivia Pintair can be forgiven if she had a moment. After months of planning and fundraising, the trio completing “Running for Refuge” was nearing the end of the trail. “I was actually running the last leg, and I came up this hill and rounded the corner and saw the bridge that went over the Connecticut River,” Pintair said.

“I just stopped running for a minute and took a minute to realize that we had done it. “I ran across the bridge, and it was a great feeling.” Pintair grew up in Williston and is an incoming senior at the Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y. She started Running for Refuge with her friend Mae Burris-Wells this year to raise money and awareness for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. On Monday, she, her father Alex and Burris-Wells completed their goal of running 90.86 miles across Vermont. They each ran 10 miles a day on the Cross Vermont Trail, which begins in Burlington and ends in Newbury. “It was really amazing, a super fun adventure,” Pintair said. “I am really happy that I got to do it with my dad and my friend.” The trio started on Thursday — and with a day’s delay due to weather — crossed the bridge to hit the finish line Monday. “I think it seemed like a pretty big goal at first,” Pintair said. “Like with every goal, you have to keep going forward until you finally get to the bridge and you reach it.” In addition to the run, Running for Refuge also held a 5K at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in July and is working toward a goal of raising $5,000 for Vermont refugees. “The majority of the trail was on really beautiful dirt roads and trails,” Pintair said. “It was a great new perspective on a state that I have always lived in, but it was a beautiful new perspective.” In addition to enjoying Vermont’s scenic charms, the running trio also got motivation from fellow runners and those who saw them running by. “We got a lot of thumbs up as people were driving by,” Pintair said. “Whenever we stopped, people would ask about the project. It was a really great way to get the word out.” Part of spreading the word is encouraging others to take advantage of the Cross Vermont Trail and use it as their own “Run for Refuge.” “I hope to put together a how-to guide for people to fundraise and do this run themselves,” Pintair said. “I think this is definitely something that people can do. I would definitely recommend it.” Pintair is looking at running a different trail next year, hopefully in Burris-Wells’ home state of Massachusetts. “Doing this run was a challenge, but it made me realize even more the challenge that people go through just to survive,” Pintair said. “Even though this was a small part of supporting refugees, I hope it was a meaningful one.” For more information about Running for Refuge or to donate, go to runningforrefuge. com.

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