Events that took place in Searsport and Belfast over the weekend of March 22-24 to benefit a 25-year-old Searsport woman battling brain cancer were well attended and will be a great help in terms of covering some of her medical expenses.

That is according to Jessica Connor, a co-organizer for the second annual fundraising event known as March Madness.

"The individual events were very well attended, and exceeded our expectations," said Connor Monday, March 25.

The weekend-long benefit kicked off Friday night with a public supper at the Searsport United Methodist Church, with activities including a Polar Plunge at the Searsport Town Wharf Saturday morning, alumni basketball games featuring former athletes from Searsport District High School and Belfast Area High School, a live band at Bowen's Tavern in Belfast and a host of other community happenings.

March Madness is an undertaking that is especially close to Connor's heart because she was the beneficiary of the first fundraiser — Connor and her family needed to cover the cost of private insurance to pay for brain surgery she needed to correct symptoms associated with a rare brain disorder known as Chiari Malformation. Connor, who continues to recover from the surgery she had in New York last spring, wanted to bring March Madness back this year so she could play a role in helping someone else in the community who was struggling with a health issue.

Initially, the event was intended to benefit baby Martin James of Waldo, whose parents, Emily Desjardins and Bill James, were struggling to find a way to fund the surgery their baby needed for a condition known as Caudal Regression Syndrome, a condition with symptoms that include an imperforated anus, meaning his rectum did not grow long enough to function properly. But due to some unexpected circumstances surrounding Baby Martin's medical needs, according to the March Madness Facebook page, Desjardins advised the organizers of this year's event to seek out a new beneficiary.

That's where 25-year-old Jessica Howard of Searsport, a woman who grew up in the area and who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, comes in.

On the March Madness 2013 Facebook page, Howard is described as "a vibrant, and lovely young lady who came highly recommended as the next beneficiary, and we couldn't be happier to try to ease the burden for her during her time of need."

For Connor, bringing the event back this year was a way for her to give back in two ways — by showing appreciation for the community that gave her so much support last year, and by helping to ease a burden for a neighbor.

"There's nothing like being able to help someone during their time of need. I know it sounds cliché, but there just aren't any words to describe the feeling, and more specifically, the feeling of being able to give back to a community that rallied around me last year when I needed it the most," said Connor. "Each one of the committee members put so much time and effort into this year's events to make it run smoothly. We are thankful to so many people: the sponsors who donated, community members who attended, volunteers who helped, the Searsport Police Department, EMTs, and everyone who helped spread the word. It was an incredible event, and we were thankful that we could help support such a deserving person."

And Connor said the community can look forward to seeing March Madness sweep the region again for years to come.

"March Madness seems to now be an event that will stick in the minds of our community members, and hopefully, people will continue to come to our events because we are hoping to have non-profit [status] by next year, and are looking forward to supporting lots of people in need throughout our communities down the road," Connor said.