Prouty raises $3 million for cancer research

by Katie Rafter | 7/14/16 6:52pm

Courtesy of Dan Grossman

Thousands of Upper Valley residents and students participated in bicycle rides, runs, walks and sports events as part of the 35th annual Prouty on July 9. The event raised just over $3 million for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Senior program manager at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Rebecca Gray said that 4,300 people participated in the Prouty, 1,000 participants less than last year, which saw 5,300 participants. She added that in recent years they have averaged around 5,000 participants. There were 1,200 volunteers, slightly less than previous years.

“It was quite a different Prouty this year than the ones I’ve been involved with as a staff member before,” she said.

Gray could not pinpoint the exact reason for the decreased number of people taking part in the Prouty. However, she said it might relate to the event’s proximity to the Fourth of July weekend resulting in people being out of town, as well as the rain on the day itself. However, she emphasized that they have measures in place should the conditions become too dangerous.

“We always have a plan B, a plan C and a plan D,” Gray said.

Some people even choose to partake in a “virtual Prouty,” which means they can choose the day and location in which they complete their Prouty activity and still fundraise. This allows people who are unable to make it to the Upper Valley to still contribute and be involved in any way that they can.

Despite the decrease in participants, this year’s event raised a comparable amount to last year’s $3.15 million, she said. She added that fundraising continues until the end of December, and they hope to reach around $3.3 or $3.4 million by then.

Gray said that fluctuations in participants and volunteers are to be expected in an event that has been around for 35 years. She emphasized that the Prouty is still the largest single day fundraising event in northern New England.

“You’re going to see tiny ups and downs, that’s just the way it works, particularly in such a small area like the Upper Valley,” she said.

Gray noted the College’s role in the event through the participation of students and other members of the community and through the work of professors and researchers both at the Geisel School of Medicine and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. She said that alumni of the College often return to Hanover to participate in the Prouty because it is so important to them.

She emphasized the high involvement of Dartmouth’s sophomore class, particularly through the Greek system at the College and said that the Greek Letter Organizations raise a total of around $110,000 per year.

Almost all of the Greek Letter Organizations on campus organize a team for the Prouty, and many had multiple teams and volunteers. Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority philanthropy chair Meredith Alaback ’18 said that some form of participation in the Prouty is mandatory for all members of the house, but they can choose the way in which they get involved, such as volunteering or participating in an event. Alaback, who is still waiting for final fundraising numbers, believes Kappa’s teams raised close to $8,000 this year.

Alpha Phi sorority philanthropy chair Carolyn Lee ’18 said that while participation is not mandatory, 40 sisters took part in the Prouty this year and 14 volunteered, an increase from previous years. The sorority raised just under $17,000 from individual fundraising.

Alaback said that in addition to members individually fundraising, Kappa also held a car wash in conjunction with fraternity Psi Upsilon, as well as a fundraising event with Everything But Anchovies. The restaurant donated 15 percent of their profit made last Friday night to the Prouty if people ordering specified that they wished to support it.

Theta Delta Chi fraternity programming chair Jase Davis ’18 said that so far the fraternity has raised $23,000, though donations continue to be made. Davis said that 23 members completed the 100 mile bike ride this year, which was a particularly high number of participants for the fraternity.

Alaback, Lee and Davis all said that it was challenging organizing such large groups of people for the Prouty, in terms of getting everyone to reach their minimum for fundraising in time to participate, especially in the days leading up to the event.

Gray noted that the Upper Valley community, as well as participants from outside the local area, enjoy taking part in the event because they can have a good time while at the same time fighting cancer, a disease that has touched most of the participants’ lives in some way.

As a cancer survivor herself, Gray feels honored to have been involved for the past seven years, especially since the event raises money for the very hospital in which she received treatment.

“[The event is] really a testament to the extraordinary community and really generous people who live in the Upper Valley,” Gray said.