On July 14, thousands of riders and walkers will wind their way through the Upper Valley and Hanover’s neighborhoods for the 30th Prouty. Others will begin their bike ride in Manchester on July 13. This wonderful community event supports Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) by raising money and awareness to fight cancer. For the second year, rowers will join the fun on the Connecticut River. More than 5,000 people are expected to participate. They come not just to ride or walk or row but to celebrate the courage of cancer patients and survivors. They come to thank caregivers, support loved ones and strangers, and raise money for crucial cancer research and patient services.
The First Prouty
While it is now a huge event, The Prouty began modestly with four women and a 100-mile journey in the White Mountains. Nurses at Norris Cotton Cancer Center took that first bike ride because they were moved by the courage and strength of their patient, Audrey Prouty. Audrey had just lost her battle against ovarian cancer, and the foursome rode to raise money to fight this horrible disease. They raised $4,000—doubling their initial goal. Two of those women, Patty Carney and Cindy Rowin Spicer, were among the six honorary co-chairs of last year’s event.
Since that first ride in 1982, the number of riders, and then walkers, has grown steadily, and more than $12 million has been raised. The money funds research, equipment, education programs, and clinical trials at NCCC. In 2010, The Prouty raised a record-breaking $2.3 million.
The Prouty is a massive undertaking, requiring months of planning and the support of more than 1,000 volunteers. The driving force behind the event is Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Jean Brown, executive director of Friends, notes, “People are motivated by this terrible disease and want to fix it. We have a very small staff, but we are blessed with a terrific network of volunteers who work throughout the year to raise money for NCCC.” While this dedicated organization is involved with many fundraising activities from radio-thons in the Upper Valley to motorcycle rides across the state, The Prouty is their signature event.
Volunteers and Participants
“My first Prouty was a comedy of errors,” says Deb Nelson. The Lebanon High School English teacher borrowed a bike from Omer and Bob’s Sport Shop and did the 25K ride. She’s come a long way since then; Deb captains The Wonder Women, and this year she’ll be riding in The Prouty Ultimate. The two-day, 200-mile ride begins in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday, July 13. Since last winter, Deb has been encouraging other women to join her on the ride. She says, “It is a lot of work to ride 100 or 200 miles. The training is hard. Dealing with how your butt looks in spandex is hard. But when I am churning my legs, I know I have angels supporting me. Those angels are my sponsors and all the volunteers.”
Last year was Dave Bradley’s 24th Prouty. A longtime team captain of the Bradley Bunch, he served as honorary co-chair with Dr. Susan Lynch in 2009. Dave’s first ride was in response to a dare. His partners and colleagues at his law firm issued the challenge: who could raise the most money? Dave comments, “I began riding on a lark, but the ride has become more meaningful every year. While it has been great to see The Prouty snowball into a terrific community event, it seems that every year another friend or family member gets hit by this awful disease.” Dave continues to enjoy the friendly competition. He has captured the number-one fundraising spot many times, both solo and with his team. In 2010, the Bradley Bunch raised more than $30,000. They hope to do the same this year—if not better.
The latest sport to join The Prouty is crew. Local rowers have been riding bikes in The Prouty for years. In 2010, Friends of Hanover Crew fielded a team of more than 200 riders and ranked second in fundraising. Now the rowers will Prouty on the Connecticut River. Adding the event has been a joint effort of Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Friends of Hanover Crew, and Upper Valley Rowing Foundation.
It’s not easy to add a new event, and Carin Reynolds, an attorney and crew coach at both Hanover High School and Upper Valley Rowing Foundation, is excited about it. Carin reports, “It’s taken and will continue to take a lot of volunteers, but the enthusiasm is incredible.” Carin explains that it is worth the work. “I’m very passionate about rowing, about The Prouty, and about the kids. There are very few opportunities to row for a cause. It is so important to participate. Once you are a part of it, your enthusiasm grows—for the sport and for helping the Cancer Center.”
Remembering Audrey Prouty
Lisa Horsch Clark, one of the honorary co-chairs, comes to Hanover every year for The Prouty. For Lisa and her family, The Prouty has special meaning—Audrey Prouty is family; Lisa is Audrey’s niece. Lisa explains, “I know that many people know The Prouty, but they don’t all know the story behind it. For me, for my family, it is important to remember Audrey. She was such a good soul.” She continues, “There wasn’t any one thing that Audrey did, but growing up I always wanted to be like her. She was beyond friendly, beyond patient and generous. She was a great woman.”
Audrey was one of six brothers and sisters, and together with their children and grandchildren, they form a large team. They call themselves Audrey’s Family Tree, and the team has drawn as many as 60 riders and walkers. While at least a handful of them ride annually, on alternate years the Horsch family and their friends come in force to Hanover.
“We have a great family and we enjoy being together,” Lisa says. “You would think that it would be a sad event for us, but it’s not. It is a joyful occasion to celebrate Audrey’s life.”
You too can help raise money for a cure. To learn more about The Prouty and to volunteer, ride, walk, row, or make a donation, visit their website at www.theprouty.org.
Ways to Prouty
There are a number of options for riders, walkers, and rowers.br
- Cycling: There are 20-, 35-, 50-, and 100-mile bike routes along the scenic Connecticut River. Or try the two-day, 200-mile Prouty Ultimate, which begins in Manchester on July 13.
- Walking: There are three residential walks of 3-, 5-, and 10K and a 5- and 10K wooded walk. Routes can be linked together for a longer walk.
- Rowing: For the first time, The Prouty offers scullers 5-, 10-, 15-, or 20-mile lengths on the beautiful Connecticut River.
- Virtually: Anyone can be a virtual participant if they want to help raise money but are unable to physically do a Prouty event in Hanover on July 14. Spread the word!
- Volunteering: The Prouty needs the help of 1,000 volunteers to keep the event safe and successful.
- Individual adult: $150
- Family: $275 (up to 2 adults and 3 children, ages 8–17)
- Individual child: $50 (ages 8–17)
- Children 7 & under: free but must register
- Ultimate individual: $2,500
- Ultimate Ulti-mate: 2 riders, $1,750 each
- Virtual individual: $100
brTeams: Each team member must register as an individual or as a family and raise the minimum.
All donations are tax deductible. The tax ID number is 02-0222140.
by Susan Nye