Prouty raises record-breaking $3.3 million for cancer center

by Abigail Mihaly | 7/19/19 2:30am

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by Abigail Mihaly / The Dartmouth Staff

Students and community members gathered last Friday and Saturday to participate in the 38th annual Prouty, an athletic event which raises money for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. This year, participants and donors raised a record breaking total of over $3.3 million for the cancer center.

In addition to the main event, the 100-mile “Century Ride,” participants could bike, walk or run a range of distances, all ending at Richmond Middle School in Hanover. Participants could also row or golf for the Prouty. The Prouty Ultimate, a 200-mile bike race, began on Friday while the majority of events took place Saturday. The total number of participants and volunteers has not yet been released by the cancer center.

Fourteen Greek houses had teams participating in athletic events, for a total of 240 Greek-affiliated students participating. Over 54,500 dollars was raised by Greek houses. Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority had the highest number of participants at 37, and Theta Delta Chi fraternity raised the most funds, more than $30,000, for the cancer center.

In addition, almost 200 students volunteered for the event. Volunteers helped with a variety of activities, including manning check-in booths, painting kids’ faces and cheering participants on as they crossed the finish line.

A string of flags lined the last few meters of the race at RMS, and a colorful balloon arch and a cheer squad of volunteers ringing cowbells and waving pom-poms announced the finish line. The finish line area at RMS also housed a large tented seating area and catered food. The Wolf 95.3 and 107.1 radio station were set up near the entrance, and a tent with seating and live music was situated further toward the back of the field. Tents near the field offered activities such as yoga and face-painting. Field games like cornhole were set up outside.

Participants of all ages arrived at the finish. Some parents carried kids on their shoulders. Other participants walked dogs or pushed wheelchairs across the finish. Bikers rode tandem with family and friends, or pulled stroller attachments behind them. One participant crossed the finish line on a unicycle.

Messages dedicated to family and friends who had passed away to cancer, written on T-shirts as well as on yellow ribbons tied to the flags lining the race’s finish, reminded attendees of the purpose behind the event.

“You get so emotional just looking at them,” said Michelle Schembri, a volunteer and Hanover resident.

John Fitzgerald ’21 organized the Greek house involvement for this year’s Prouty. The role is passed down as the main responsibility of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity summer vice president, according to Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald worked to encourage Greek houses to make teams and organize the student volunteer shifts for the event.

“It’s such a cool event because so many people get so involved,” Fitzgerald said.

Hannah McGrath ’21 said her Greek house, Alpha Xi Delta sorority, encouraged participation in the Prouty. Sophia Koval ’21, another member of AXiD, said that she believes the Prouty is an important event for Greek houses in the summer. Both McGrath and Koval learned about the race through their house, but said that cancer research and care was also an important and personal issue that they were excited to be able to support.

For Koval, being on-campus this summer meant missing a childhood cancer survivor camp she has attended for the last 13 years. Koval said she is not a cancer survivor, but was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia when she was six years old. Although she couldn’t be at the camp this year, she said she was happy to help by volunteering at the Prouty.

“Anything I can do to support the cancer center here. They need all the help they can get,” McGrath said.

Many participants traveled in teams of family or friends. Some had matching T-shirts, donning messages like “Riding 4 My Dad,” “Sally’s Soldiers, in loving memory of our darling Sally” and “Team Grammie forever.” Others wore T-shirts and jerseys from previous years of the Prouty.

Tish Hoyt of Campton, New Hampshire and her family has been attending the Prouty every year since 1986. This year, the family walked the 3k race together, wearing matching neon shirts with puff-paint announcing how long each member had been participating in the Prouty. Her kids — who have been coming every year since they were born — have participated in a variety of ways, from being pushed in baby carts to biking.

Hoyt said she and her family do the Prouty in honor of her mother and grandmother, both of whom passed away from cancer. Hoyt said she feels cancer is in her own path.

“I want to find a cure,” Hoyt said.

Elizabeth McKeen of Bow, New Hampshire also walked the Prouty this year, and said that although the family has been participating for many years, this year was special because her father recently passed away from leukemia. Her husband, Brian McKeen, said he enjoyed the event because of the camaraderie with fellow participants.

“It’s so big that no matter what you’re biking, you’re always with people.”

“It’s so big that no matter what you’re biking, you’re always with people,” he said.

McKeen said that he appreciated the presence of professional support and snacks along the way to encourage participants, as well as food and activities at the finish line, and said the event had a “great atmosphere.”

Schembri said the Prouty is a great way to get involved in a widespread issue.

“So many people are impacted and touched by cancer. It’s a really nice way to try and make a difference in people’s lives who you know and love and care for,” she said.