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Racing for a Cause

07/07/04 12:00AM By John Morton
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(Host) Summer is here. It's a season full of running and cycling events and according to commentator John Morton, creative opportunities for charitable giving.


(Morton) A heart warming phenomenon has evolved over the past couple of decades: lots of people are participating in races to raise money for a worthy cause.

Charitable organizations, many of them devoted to funding medical research, have encouraged runners and cyclists who are preparing for major events to gather pledges from friends and associates. The response has been overwhelming. Millions of dollars have poured in from scores of walking, running and cycling events, nationwide.

The fundraising-while-exercising theme has two distinct variations.

One approach consists of specific events which benefit a particular cause, like the Pan Mass Challenge, an annual, two day bicycle tour across Massachusetts, from Stockbridge to Provincetown. Last summer, more than 3,000 cyclists raised $14 million for Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The second approach can be described as "Teams in Training." These are groups that recruit participants for major events like the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. or Burlington's own Vermont City Marathon. The charity provides training advice, organizes group workouts, offers encouragement, and supplies uniforms to participants who raise pledges for the cause.

So where should you race? There are two events in our region that merit special attention.

The Race for the Cure, held each summer in beautiful, Manchester, Vermont, is a scenic 3.1 mile race which draws participants from throughout the northeast. There are separate events for men, women, and walkers. The day takes on added poignancy thanks to the many women who participate with pink numbers, which identify them as cancer survivors. Other participants run with signs pinned to their shirts proclaiming, "I'm running for Mom," or "In memory of Grandma"

Then there's the Prouty.

Twenty two years ago, four nurses from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire rode their bikes 100 miles to honor the courage of their patient, Audrey Prouty, in her fight against cancer. That inaugural ride raised $4,000 for cancer research.

In the two decades since, the Prouty has evolved to include cycling tours of 25, 50, and 100 miles, as well as walking events of 5 or 10 kilometers. Last summer's Prouty drew almost 1,000 participants, supported by 200 volunteers. More than $265,000 was contributed to Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center, which has earned recognition as one of the top cancer research centers in the nation. This year's Prouty is scheduled for July 10.

Information on these, and other charitable athletic events can be found on line. If you enjoy running or cycling, add a new dimension to your exercise
by competing for a worthwhile cause. You'll enjoy the physical benefits of being fit, and you'll also feel the heart warming sensation of contributing to an effort that really is making a difference in the fight against some of our most persistent diseases.

This is John Morton in Thetford.

Related links:
www.theprouty.org
www.vtnhcure.org


John Morton designs trails and writes about sports. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.
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