The second day of the Tour de La Porte brought out over 1,000 runners and walkers and over 120 volunteers for a total of three races. Held at Soldiers Memorial Park, participants were able to compete in either a 5k, 10k, or half-marathon.
What makes the races unique is where the funds from the event ultimately end up. Proceeds from Tour de La Porte go to the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, providing support for families in the area dealing with the financial struggles of fighting cancer. This year marks the fifteenth Tour de La Porte and net funds from previous races average about $70,000 each year.
“[Tour de La Porte] is a lot of work and it takes a lot of people, but the way we use these dollars is very important to the community,” said Healthcare Foundation of La Porte CEO Maria Fruth.
CEO of La Porte Hospital Thor Thordarson has seen the impact the foundation has made firsthand.
“We often get patients who either can’t afford medical treatment or can’t drive to and from treatments,” said Thordarson. “We will refer to the foundation and ask them for help with our patients. Cancer can be a devastating disease financially as well as physically and so this is really designed to help folks so that the financial impact is not as severe. There are hundreds if not thousands of people in the community who have been helped by the foundation over the years.”
With such a meaningful cause, the race attracts both families of cancer survivors as well as cancer patients themselves.
In February of 2015, Chad Doan, 39, was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, cancer of the eye. Affecting only 2,500 people per year, the cancer starts in the eye and can spread to the liver or lungs. Once it has spread, it is untreatable. Doan’s tumor in his right eye was 7.2mm. After receiving radiation treatment, his tumor is now down to 1.5mm.
“About a year ago I started running to, in a sense, run away from my cancer and this is my first half marathon today,” said Doan. “I saw that this race was for cancer patients and I thought it was a perfect connection between me and my running.”
The impact made by the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte is one that stays with families long after their fight against cancer is over. In 2008, Eric Sobecki’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. For two years, she received treatment at La Porte Hospital. At the time, Sobecki and his brother were both serving in the military, making it hard for them to give their mother support. The La Porte Hospital Foundation not only helped financially, but also emotionally, sending flowers to the family throughout their hospital stay.
Unfortunately, Sobecki’s mother passed away in 2010, right before the Tour de La Porte.
“It kind of made it even more special,” said Sobecki. “Every year since then we’ve brought family and friends out for the race and in 2010 we sponsored the race. We fly in from wherever we are for this race because the foundation makes sure to keep their work local and you don’t see that often. The foundation is definitely not doing this so that they can take credit for it. They do it because it means something to them and the community.”
The Tour de La Porte hosted its final day of events on Sunday with bicycle races up to 100 miles long. Participants were able to register that morning. If you are interested in learning more, visit http://www.tourdelaporte.org/event-details.