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Lebanon Man Gives 25 Years to Walkathon

Lebanon — A Lebanon man long involved in fundraising efforts for cystic fibrosis will hit his quarter century benchmark on Sept. 14 when he sets out to participate in the annual Great Strides walkathon.

Robert Plante, 65, has raised nearly $3,000 so far for the three-mile walk, which will start and end at Lebanon High School. In his 25-year span, Plante has raised more than $250,000 for cystic fibrosis research.

“I’ve been real busy, out straight,” Plante said last week.

For more than two decades, Plante has made endless phone calls to area businesses and has marched door to door to raise money for cystic fibrosis research — walking as far as Quechee, from Lebanon, for the cause.

Even though Plante has “real bad osteoarthritis” in his joints, he said the disorder hasn’t — and will not — slowdown his fundraising efforts.

“I’ve been raising a lot of money,” he said. “(And) have been getting the teams together for the walk.”

Lindsay Gilbert, development manager with Northern New England’s Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter, said Plante is an outstanding community member who puts a tremendous amount of effort into fundraising.

“Everywhere we have gone, people are happy and excited to see him and are eager to support him,” Gilbert said. “This is something that he is passionate about and has been working on for so many years.”

Plante said he is friends with and has known several people effected by cystic fibrosis, which inspired him to start his grassroot efforts.

Plante and the late Doug Jones, a Lebanon lawyer who was among the oldest surviving cystic fibrosis patients, grew up and attended school together, and were involved in the Catholic Youth Organization at the Sacred Heart Church, he said.

“I lost a true dear friend,” Plante said. Jones passed away in 1992.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, “cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States.

A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections, and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.”

The Great Strides walk will commence at 10:30 a.m. and the day’s festivities will include raffles, food vendors, and entertainment.

Plante spoke with confidence on Thursday that he would meet his $10,000 fundraising goal —and possibly exceed it — by the start of the Sept. 14 event.

And Plante’s determination doesn’t stop at a dollar mark. Despite having osteoarthritis, he said “I am going to walk half way.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.