Dartmouth students joined community members to participate in the 26th Annual Prouty Century Bike Ride and Challenge Walk to raise money for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center this past Saturday. This year’s event saw a tenfold increase in participation by students eager to support cancer research and claim a $3,000 prize offered to the Greek House with the highest participation rate.
In addition to fundraising and volunteering, participants could choose to bike 100, 50 or 25 miles or walk five, 10, 15 or 20 kilometers.
Wes Chapman ’77 Tu’81, whose cycling team raised a total of $42,600, explained that he initiated the competition this year between Greek houses in order to encourage more Dartmouth student participation in the community. A standard point system was used to determine the winner, giving points to Greek houses with the greatest number of 100-mile participants, most money raised and highest percentage of house volunteer participation. The money is designated for the social activities of the house.
“Philanthropy chairs especially reacted very strongly to the fact that there was a cash prize. That definitely raised participation,” Andrew Lane ’09, Greek Leadership Council moderator, said.
Lense Gebre-Mariam ’09, co-ed fraternity and sorority system intern and Greek coordinator for the Prouty, acknowledged that the nature of this contest made it hard to give houses equal competition opportunities. Houses differ in size, fundraising capabilities, alumni connections and physical ability, she said.
Gebre-Mariam said she also recognized that previous involvement in the event led to reserved volunteer positions which could provide an unfair advantage on certain houses competing for the $3,000.
“We realized that the Prouty already had a large and diverse group of volunteers and there were already houses that had a close relationship with the Prouty,” Gebre-Mariam ’09 said. “I just viewed it as we have to be as fair as possible with dividing up the positions. How can you have a contest if you already know who the winners are?”
The competition’s date was announced just three weeks ahead of time, causing the late registration of 200 Dartmouth volunteers, which proved cumbersome for organizers.
“By the time we knew that the students were available, we had already been recruiting [volunteers],” Jean Brown, Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center Director, said. “[But] the student participation is literally making [the event] possible.”
Organizers anticipate similar enthusiasm in years to come and Chapman is committed to making the competition among Greek houses an annual event.
“I think that the turnout was amazing and it was great, to see so many Dartmouth kids involved in a community event,” Whitney Coombs ’08, who worked the ice cream stand, said. “Usually there seems to be some segregation between the school and Hanover, and that was definitely not the case at the Prouty. The perfect weather, tons of free food, and music didn’t hurt either.”
In addition to the multitudes of volunteers and participants, around 4,000 this year, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and his wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, biked 25 miles for the event.
Dr. Lynch, whose work involves the linkage between childhood obesity and cancer, was impressed by the event.
“This is the only [biking event] I’ve participated in where every dollar raised stays in New Hampshire,” Susan Lynch said.
Not only does the money raised stay in New Hampshire, but 90 cents for every dollar goes directly to the cancer center, Susan Wright, wife of Dartmouth President Jim Wright said.
Wright, the event’s honorary co-chair and recipient of treatment for breast cancer at the center, individually raised $22,000. She received the third prize for top individual contribution.
Sponsors and donors surpassed this year’s goal of $1.5 million and raised $1.6 million.
Dartmouth Students contributed an estimated six to 10thousand dollars.
The competition results among the Greek Houses have not yet been released due to late fundraising efforts, but are expected to be announced late this week.