Virtual Prouty carries on 39 year tradition

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 8:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 12:01 PM EDT
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This weekend marks the 39th anniversary of The Prouty, but like many other pandemic-altered events, the fundraiser for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center looks a bit different.

The wheels continue to roll for The Prouty. One group of cyclists is taking part in the Virtual Ultimate ride, a two-day 200-mile course. The Prouty in a normal year allows for biking, walking, paddling, rowing, or golf, and raises millions every year to support those affected by cancer.

Steven Leach, who is riding in his 4th Prouty, is the director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "It allows us to do all the things that we do for our patients, all the research that we do for the world, and it brings our community together," Leach said.

Jessica Oakes was diagnosed with Breast Cancer two years ago. "It was absolutely terrifying," she said. Oakes has been riding in the Prouty for six years. "As soon as I got to Dartmouth I felt like I relaxed because I knew that I was in good hands, so it kind of gave The Prouty a whole new meaning for me."

But it's also a new year for the event. Unlike past years which saw 4,000 participants all starting at once, this year's event has taken place over a six-week period in much smaller groups to help stop the spread of COVID-19. "The silver lining of the Virtual Prouty is that people can do it anywhere," said Jean Brown, the event's director.

And people have been sending in their photos from all over. They are all contributing their own amounts. Upwards of $40 million has been raised since the event first began 39 years ago. "It all goes to patient services and cancer research that are otherwise unfunded," Brown said.

"It feels different but at the same time it's just been a miracle how the community has still supported us," Leach said.

And as the bike routes continue through the weekend, riders like Oakes are already eyeing next year. "I was think as we were riding, I'm looking forward to years when everyone is together again," she said.

This year, participants raised upwards of $2.8 million, an impressive feat for the first-of-its kind event. Participants will celebrate at an online awards ceremony Saturday night.

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