Upper Valley residents in search of a physical challenge paired with a meaningful cause have, for years, relied on The Prouty to fulfill both. As we approach another Prouty event, the 41st annual, area roads are busy hosting cyclists training for Prouty weekend. Norwich is always well represented with Prouty participants cycling, walking, golfing, rowing to raise money for cancer research.

Norwich resident Stuart Richards is one example of a longtime Prouty veteran who has logged many tough miles on his bike raising money for the annual event.

“My participation goes back to 1986 when I rode my first Prouty Century Ride (the 100-mile course).  The weather was difficult that day with temps and humidity in the mid to high nineties.  This was a tough initiation to a wonderful event. It was a wonderful experience riding with so many like-minded people. Since then, I’ve ridden a number of centuries as well as quite a number of 50-mile and 25-mile events.”

 Much has changed since that first Prouty experience, says Richards. “If I remember correctly, there were a few hundred riders, not the thousands of participants we see today, and I don’t recall that you could participate in ways other than riding your bike.”

The various challenges encountered while riding over the years always keeps cyclists and organizers prepared for the inevitable miscues.

“Many years since that first century riders, I remember additional centuries, 75-milers, 50-milers and 25-milers. Other years I remember one of my friends riding too close, grazing my back wheel, going down hard and needing medical assistance. Then there were the unplanned flat tires and mechanical problems that Prouty volunteers were so wonderful in fixing,” recalls Richards.

To keep mechanical issues to a minimum, Prouty volunteers in repair vehicles are very evident on the cycling routes, fixing bikes when needed.

“The many people who participate and selflessly contribute in making the Prouty the meaningful and terrific event that it is,” says Richards.

Those people – the volunteers, sponsors, participants, and the organizers of The Prouty – give the event a feeling of goodwill and camaraderie few other events can match.

“Over the years, the Prouty has become an event for thousands of participants who are coming from near and far,” says Richards. “My family and friends participate as many times as we possibly can to support a cause that hopefully may bring Dartmouth Health closer to the breakthroughs that we’ve all been hoping for. When I ride with my wife, my son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and friends there is such a feel-good feeling that we share that we will always continue to support this noble effort.”

These feelings of goodwill, determination, togetherness, and positivity felt at The Prouty all result from the cause – the reason so many come together – the fight against cancer.

“The ravages and heartache that individuals and families suffer from cancer are well-known,” says Richards. “Anyone who has had cancer or had someone who is near and dear to them know what I’m talking about, and that’s most of us. Chemotherapy is no joke. It may prolong your life but there are severe consequences. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lung, ovarian or any of the many other forms of cancer.”

Playing a part in this fight, by raising money for research and patient services, gives a sense of well-being and hope to all involved.

“We all can play a part in participating in trying to find better treatments and cures for this terrible disease,” says Richards. “I very much look forward to riding again and playing my small part in trying to help. This year my grand-children may ride with me. I know that many of you out there will be joining me and I look forward to seeing you.” n

This year’s Prouty event takes place on July 8 and 9, with the starting point and festivities once again held at the Richmond School in Hanover.