Hundreds of runners from all over Northwest Indiana gathered at Cummings Lodge, nestled between Pine Lake and Stone Lake, in La Porte to kick off Tour de La Porte 2022. This two-day running, walking, and cycling event is community-oriented and offers something for any age or skill level. The Tour de La Porte is hosted by La Porte County Family YMCA way to raise funds and help the community per their mission statement.
Laurie Halaska, CEO of La Porte County Family YMCA, put the scope of the Tour de La Porte into perspective.
“This is our largest fundraising event for the entire year,” said Halaska. “So we rely heavily on the funds that are generated from this event.”
Tour de La Porte has a long history in the City of La Porte. This is only the second year La Porte County Family YMCA has run the Tour. The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte held the event for 17 years, but recently Healthcare Foundation passed the event on to another organization.
“This is technically the 20th year for the event,” said Jessica Durham, Director of Marketing and Events for La Porte County Family YMCA. “In 2020, we took a break because of COVID-19. Tour de La Porte was created by the Healthcare Foundation, but they no longer need to fundraise. So they were looking for another organization to take it over and it aligned with our mission.”
Last year Tour de La Porte raised $62,000, and all of that money is used to help people in the community.
“All the proceeds of this go towards our Caring for Community Scholarship Fund,” said Durham. “We typically give out between $100,000-200,000 in scholarships to the La Porte community that come in the form of child care, sports programs, swim lessons, membership, and more. We want to help remove any financial barriers that anyone faces from being able to live a healthier lifestyle.”
This event would not be possible without the countless volunteers, sponsors, and community members that make it happen. It takes over 120 people to make this event run as smoothly as it does. Without the volunteers and sponsors, this event would not be possible.
“We have a ton of wonderful sponsors,” said Dawn Zigler, President of the Board of the YMCA. “It takes our sponsors that have businesses here, and people that support us to make this happen. I’m born and raised in La Porte County, and this is an area that is all about giving back. It takes that to put this event on. Kudos to all of our sponsors, volunteers, and the great staff at the YMCA that pull this off.”
Day one of Tour de La Porte features a half marathon and 5K walk/run, and day two features different cycling routes for people of all skill levels. Cyclists can choose from 5, 15, 25, 40, 60, 75, and even a 100-mile route. So far, the 100-mile route is one of the larger groups with around 70 people signed up to take on the challenge.
An important part of keeping cyclists safe on Sunday is the Safety and Gear (SAG) stops along the course.
“Each SAG stop has restroom facilities, drinks, food, first aid equipment, even equipment to fix bikes,” said Peggy Zarantonello, Sports Coordinator. “The SAG stops are so important to know that our cyclists can feel safe if they are having any issues. Each of the SAG stop is run by volunteers, and several businesses have sponsored the stops.”
Halaska went on to explain why La Porte County Family YMCA puts on this event, and what excites her about it.
“I’ve been in the YMCA’s for 21 years,” said Halaska. “What gets me excited is that you get to see the impact directly of the work you do. The joy we know it brings when we hand out a scholarship to an individual in need makes all the work worth it.”
To learn more about La Porte County Family YMCA, visit their website: https://www.lpymca.org/.