The city of La Porte was all a bustle on Sunday morning because the Tour de La Porte was in full swing. This is the eleventh year for the Tour de La Porte, and each year it gets bigger and better. The event, which takes place at Soldiers Memorial Park, is put on by the La Porte Hospital Foundation (The Foundation) which is a non-profit organization located at the IU Health La Porte Hospital. The Foundation helps to promote healthy living and lifestyles in the surrounding communities. What makes the Tour de La Porte unique is that 100 percent of the proceeds go toward helping cancer patients in the community. The Foundation’s Cancer Fund helps those who cannot afford treatments, helps pay for medications, provides cancer screenings to community members and other beneficial services.
Judy Trumble, the Assistant Director of Rehabilitation Services at IU Health La Porte Hospital, was at the mobile safety station that day.
“My son and my grandson are out riding fifteen miles,” Trumble explained. “I’m at the mobile station In case somebody gets a scrape or a bump that they need to have fixed up. We have some cool cots inside that they can lay down on if somebody needs to cool off. It’s a beautiful morning. It’s fun seeing all the different kinds of bikes and ages from little tiny babies on the back to older adults. It’s great seeing all the different age groups out here!”
Breakfast and lunch were provided for the bikers by Lakeshore Foods in the Cummings Lodge which was located right across the way from the mobile station. Inside the lodge, participants as well as volunteers milled about, munching on edibles from the generous buffet, registering for the event or just shooting the breeze. Liz Sawaya, Development Manager for The Foundation and event coordinator for the Tour de La Porte was there wearing a bright, easy smile. I asked her what sort of efforts go into planning such a large event.
“We have a huge committee of dedicated volunteers. They’re amazing. They are Foundation board members, colleagues at IU Health La Porte Hospital and community members,” Sawaya said. “We’ll have a wrap-up meeting in September and we’ll start planning for next year in October. So months of planning go into designing routes, coming up with SAG Stops, finding volunteer support along the way and getting underwriter support. It’s a big thing.”
The Tour de La Porte is part of a two-day event, with running events and a bike time trial that happened the day before on Saturday.
“We have over 100 volunteers between the two days,” Sawaya continued. “The La Porte Firefighters Association had Rock the Park yesterday. So we worked together and cross-promoted events just to make sure that people were aware that there’s a lot going on in La Porte. This is the first year that we’ve fallen on the same weekend as anything going on with the firefighters. It’s really the first time that we’ve been able to promote an evening event, and last year was the first year that the Tour was a two-day.”
Has the turnout been good today?
“We have had a great turnout today," Sawaya said. "We had over 800 pre-registered folks between all the events, and the on-site table yesterday and then again today has been busy since we opened. Last year we had 1,080 participants, and this year we are obviously hoping to exceed that. We’re hoping to be at 1,200 or more for participants. Last year we raised $56,000 towards the Cancer Patient Fund, which is fantastic, so we would love to get to al least $60,000. Every year we want to grow. The more we grow the more we can help cancer patients in the area.”
After perusing the Cummings Lodge I took a trip to one of the SAGs (stop and go). A SAG is like a rest stop that is located on the bike route and the bikers can go to when they need a break along the way. Garwood Orchards was the location and it was sponsored by Larry Noel. All of the volunteers at the Garwood SAG were Noel’s family and friends, and I mention Noel because he is the founder of the Tour de La Porte.
“I rode from Seattle to Washington D.C for the American Lung Association and I took a lot of money out of La Porte and I wanted to bring something back in for a worthwhile cause. I talked to Maria Fruth who’s in charge of The Foundation and they were kind of hesitant about it. So for about two months straight I bugged her. She still thanks me that I didn’t give up,” Noel said with a grin. “One hundred percent of proceeds go to cancer patients. Very few charities do that."
There you have it, folks. Another great event put on by great people for a great cause. How about a great ending for this article? A line from The Beatles song When I’m 64 comes to mind.
“...Sunday mornings, go for a ride.”
To find out more about the Tour de La Porte and the La Porte Hospital Foundation click here, please!
You can also check out the Facebook page by clicking here!