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Runners, walkers raise funds for clinic

October 17, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

WILLIAMSPORT -- Every day, health care professionals wade through a tide of need at the Community Free Clinic of Washington County.

They serve people with jobs, but no health insurance; senior citizens who need routine checkups to keep them out of the emergency room; and the displaced and homeless with few options.

The clinic is their safety net -- and Dr. Dan McDougal wants to keep it that way. That's why he established an endowment fund.

McDougal has served as a volunteer physician at the free clinic and is a member of its board of directors.

He recently was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable, fatal neuromuscular disorder.

But despite the battle he has been fighting, he wanted to ensure that medical attention would continue to be available to everyone in the community, said his wife, Penny McDougal.

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"It didn't surprise me that he wanted to start this endowment," she said. "He has always cared about the patient."

Saturday morning, with wet and raw weather conditions, about 20 people arrived at Williamsport High School to raise money for the endowment.

The first annual Dan McDougal Endowment Benefit 5K Run/Walk was held at the school's cross country course.

"Prior to his illness, Dan was an avid runner and walker," said Robin E. Roberson, executive director of the Community Free Clinic. "We wanted to hold this event in his honor -- to support his passion for running and, at the same time, benefit the endowment. We hope to do this every year."

Roberson said McDougal has been a tremendous asset to the clinic and continues to show his support by establishing the endowment fund.

"The clinic has never had an endowment," she said. "In future years, it will support clinic operations. The bottom line -- it supports patient care."

Penny McDougal said she would be walking in Saturday's 5K and would be accompanied by her daughter and grandchildren.

"It's a special day for the family," she said.

"We are so honored to be able to help the clinic and see support for the clinic and Dan," she added. "He's a good guy."

Roberson said organizers hadn't set a monetary goal for Saturday's event.

What was most important, she said, is that "everyone should know the contributions Dan McDougal has made to the community."

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