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Walk." The event was started 24 years ago by four dedicated nurses and an ovarian cancer patient named Audrey Prouty. The four nurses decided to raise money for cancer research by riding 100 miles in Prouty's honor. "Our goal was $2,000," recalls Dr. Patty Carney, one of the original four nurses. "We raised $4,000." The ride was scheduled for August 18 that year; Prouty passed away on July 7.
The 2004 Prouty drew more than 1,000 participants from 18 states to ride 100, 50, or 25 miles or to walk 5 or 10 kilometers; the event raised $365,000. Brown—who is finishing her first year on the job, much of it spent organizing the event—says "the day was extraordinary. From the ham [radio] operators making sure everyone's safe, to the musicians entertaining throughout the day, to the Lions Club members who do the grilling, to the masseurs who give massages all day long, there are literally hundreds of people who donate their time and their services to making this event a success. I've never seen a community come together like this—it's really stunning."
"To me," says Carney, who has ridden almost every one of the 24 years, "the reason this whole ride is so enduring is that we all know someone like Audrey—someone who, when faced with their mortality, opens up to the world. She was such a determined woman." Carney relates a story told to her by Prouty's husband: One year, when Prouty had relapsed, she received a series of
chemotherapy treatments and on the way home from an appointment her hair started falling out. Prouty and her husband had a bush outside their home on which they used to put cotton and other nest-building materials for the birds. So they stopped the car next to it and stood there and pulled out all her hair and hung it on the bush. The next spring, every nest around their house was lined with downy hair. "That was how they were," says Carney. "She just said, 'Let's make this useful somehow.'"
Participants ride or walk in the Prouty for
all sorts of reasons, says Brown. "Some people do it out of love for someone who is fighting cancer now. Some people do it because it is a wonderful way to challenge themselves physically. And some people do it because someone they know or love has died of cancer. Often, the frustration level is very high because we feel helpless. Riding 100 miles can really make you feel like you're doing something signifi- cant. And that helps."
"We've always had people with cancer riding with us," Carney says. "We had a ski-lift operator who was in his twenties who was dying. He'd failed every kind of treatment. He was such a tough guy that even though his bones really hurt—he had leukemia—once we put him on a bike, he could ride it. He rode 100 miles about two months before he died. It's a very inspiring ride."
Last year, Carney rode in memory of her father, who had died of cancer in May. "I had a picture of him on my back, and I had a memory ribbon clipped to the picture. Every once in a while, the little memory tape would tickle the back of my neck and I would think of him."
The Prouty brings out countless such vignettes. "I love doing it because I ask people their stories," continues Carney. "Last time I rode I met a family who live all over the U.S. Their mother was treated at the Cancer Center for pancreatic cancer. They convene every year, about 30 of them, to ride for their mom." And to support the work of DHMC.
Britton is a freelance writer who has lived in the Upper Valley for many years.
CHaD Champions" are community partnerships with companies that become champions for kids, explains Sharon Brown, director of community relations for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD). Wal-Mart stores of New Hampshire and Vermont are recent CHaD Champions.
The relationship began several years ago when a grateful parent who was a Wal-Mart employee wanted to give something back. She approached her store manager and introduced CHaD staff to Wal-Mart leaders. Small fundraisers were held in a few stores, and the first year the group
presented a $20,000 check to CHaD. Since then, Wal-Mart has expanded the initiative and also sponsors an annual golf tournament to which all the stores' major vendors are invited. The event is attended by employees, grateful parents and patients, and doctors.
This past year, the group gave $375,000 to help support a number of programs at CHaD, including the Face of a Child Program. Previously, they supported CHaD's Neurometabolic Program in honor of the work of Dr. James Filiano, director of the program. A few years ago, Filiano diagnosed Harrison and Gracey Colegrove
with a rare genetic disorder; after treatment, the siblings went from needing straps to hold them in wheelchairs to competing in gymnastics and karate.
Marty Candon, president of the Friends of CHaD, attended a luncheon after the golf tournament and sat next to the Colegrove children during a raffle and auction. As people won items, they started giving them to the Colegroves until each had a pile of gifts taller than they were. The emotion of the day was indescribable, says Candon. She was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Wal-Mart associates and their vendors.
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