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‘I’m in Awe of This Community’

  • Sarah Glueck, 7, of Hanover, sits among yellow memorial ribbons while waiting for her brother, Adam, 14, to reach the finish line of The Prouty at Frances C. Richmond Middle School in Hanover on Saturday. The ribbons are in honor or remembrance of loved ones who have had cancer. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Sarah Glueck, 7, of Hanover, sits among yellow memorial ribbons while waiting for her brother, Adam, 14, to reach the finish line of The Prouty at Frances C. Richmond Middle School in Hanover on Saturday. The ribbons are in honor or remembrance of loved ones who have had cancer. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kathy Morton, of Thetford, gets her tires filled before beginning her ride. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Kathy Morton, of Thetford, gets her tires filled before beginning her ride. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ashley Morse, of Brownsville, climbs aboard her bike to begin The Prouty with her children Caleb, 11, and Gail, 9. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Ashley Morse, of Brownsville, climbs aboard her bike to begin The Prouty with her children Caleb, 11, and Gail, 9. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ruby lies quietly among thirsty runners and walkers at a water break point in the woods during The Prouty in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday, July 13, 2013. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson's business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the morning of the event.<br/>Valley News - Libby March

    Ruby lies quietly among thirsty runners and walkers at a water break point in the woods during The Prouty in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday, July 13, 2013. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson's business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the morning of the event.
    Valley News - Libby March Purchase photo reprints »

  • Richard Wallace, of Lebanon, owner of Omer & Bob’s Sportshop, adjusts a helmet for Sarah Yeager, of Lebanon, at Richmond Middle School before she rides in The Prouty on Saturday. Wallace and some of his employees were present all morning to help cyclists tune up. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Richard Wallace, of Lebanon, owner of Omer & Bob’s Sportshop, adjusts a helmet for Sarah Yeager, of Lebanon, at Richmond Middle School before she rides in The Prouty on Saturday. Wallace and some of his employees were present all morning to help cyclists tune up. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ruby takes a break among thirsty Prouty participants at a water break point in the woods on Saturday. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft, of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson’s business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the event. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Ruby takes a break among thirsty Prouty participants at a water break point in the woods on Saturday. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft, of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson’s business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the event. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sarah Glueck, 7, of Hanover, sits among yellow memorial ribbons while waiting for her brother, Adam, 14, to reach the finish line of The Prouty at Frances C. Richmond Middle School in Hanover on Saturday. The ribbons are in honor or remembrance of loved ones who have had cancer. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Kathy Morton, of Thetford, gets her tires filled before beginning her ride. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Ashley Morse, of Brownsville, climbs aboard her bike to begin The Prouty with her children Caleb, 11, and Gail, 9. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Ruby lies quietly among thirsty runners and walkers at a water break point in the woods during The Prouty in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday, July 13, 2013. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson's business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the morning of the event.<br/>Valley News - Libby March
  • Richard Wallace, of Lebanon, owner of Omer & Bob’s Sportshop, adjusts a helmet for Sarah Yeager, of Lebanon, at Richmond Middle School before she rides in The Prouty on Saturday. Wallace and some of his employees were present all morning to help cyclists tune up. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Ruby takes a break among thirsty Prouty participants at a water break point in the woods on Saturday. Ruby belongs to Kinson and Keri Craft, of Hanover, who are volunteering with Kinson’s business, Simple Energy, to hand out water during the event. (Valley News - Libby March)

Hanover — The 32nd annual Prouty raised a record $2.6 million, uniting walkers, bikers, rowers golfers and others from across New England in the fight against cancer Saturday, event officials said.

“That’s our highest total ever, and people will keep giving money for the next couple months,” said Jean Brown, executive director of Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “It’s incredible, absolutely incredible.”

The Prouty, which has raised more than $14 million for cancer research and patient services over the past 30 years, gathered more than 5,000 participants Saturday, Brown said.

The bikers and runners gathered in front of Richmond Middle School, then shot down Route 10A toward Lyme beneath an overcast sky. At the green in Lyme, members of Oliver’s Team pulled their bikes into the shade and rested after 10 miles of riding.

The team rides for 7-year-old Oliver Robin, said Dean Parker, of Andover, N.H., who is married to the boy’s mother, Christiane Andrews.

In 2002, the couple faced a troubling diagnosis, Parker said. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center specialists told Andrews she had ovarian cancer, and that she faced chemotherapy and the possibility of becoming infertile.

“It was stage 1A ovarian cancer maligning on a cist that was on an ovary,” Parker said.

But instead of performing a hysterectomy, Parker said, Andrews’ gynecological oncologist, Leslie DeMars, successfully removed the cancerous ovary.

“She saved her reproduction function,” Parker said. “And she was able to have Oliver. It’s truly a miracle.”

Every year, people’s generosity continues to astound him.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “And the money stays local, which is a great thing for families and patients.”

After Oliver’s Team hit the road, Craig Goodman, of Ludlow, Vt., rolled into the rest area on top of a 5-foot tall antique bike with a large front wheel and a tiny back wheel.

He slid his weight onto the back wheel, which has a tiny foothold, and popped off the bike. “I just got it fixed, actually,” said Goodman, who owns a pizza place and enjoys collecting old cars and trinkets.

People crowded around immediately. Some snapped pictures. Others asked questions about the mysterious “circus-looking device” — “Is it hard to get off?” “How old is it?” “Is the bike difficult to ride?”

Goodman grinned and fielded the questions. “It’s from the early 1900s,” he said. “And getting off is pretty easy. Hills are tough, but on the downhill sections, you just coast.”

The bike has a makeshift leather seat and a brake system, he said. “But it doesn’t work well.”

This is Goodman’s second year at the Prouty, and his first year on the tall bike.

He rode with his two sons, Clint, 13, and Jake, 8. They considered riding unicycles, he said, “but didn’t think they could last 20 miles.” So he refurbished the old bike, and said everybody has enjoyed seeing him wheel down the road.

“I figured this was a good time to bust this old thing out,” Goodman said, “and everybody’s so pumped. They ‘whoo’ whenever I pedal by. And that’s even more fun.”

For others, the thrill of the Prouty came from cheering on others.

On the front lawn of the Kendal at Hanover retirement community on Lyme Road, 45 senior citizens gathered by a sign that read: “You’re over the hill … and so are we!” They sat less than a mile away from the finish line and jangled cowbells and tambourines, giving support to every rider.

Joan Ashley, 84, said the encouragement came at an important time in the ride. “They’re just about at the finish line,” she said. “Even though we’re retired, we want to participate in the community.”

Ashley, who helped organize the group, said community members approach her days later, and thank her and “her cheerleaders” for their support.

“We have age-appropriate noisemakers and flags that read ‘Kendal salutes you,’ ” she said. “And we’ll last until we get too tired or if it starts raining.”

Even though clouds darkened most of the day, Mark Israel, director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at DHMC, said the weather didn’t dampen anyone’s mood.

“I’m in awe of this community,” Israel said. “Everybody knows somebody, and everyone’s experiencing the scourge of cancer. But they’re excited, and passionate, and they look forward to this.”

At the finish line, Jay Naparstek, of Worcester, Mass., cheered on riders. He biked earlier in the day, he said, in memory of his wife, Laurie, who died in December 2011 from pancreatic cancer.

“Everybody’s been touched by (cancer) in some way,” Naparstek said. “Everyone here has a story.”

On the other side of the finish line, a line of yellow papers swayed in the breeze, each containing a message to loved ones lost to cancer.

“In memory of Judith Baldwin,” one read. “My mother Maureen,” said another. And a third, with the message: “Deb I miss you every day.”

Zack Peterson can be reached at zpeterson@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.