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Tour Des Chutes Raises $125,000 for Cancer Survivorship

Karsten Hagen InterviewOn a brilliant day with alternating sunny blue skies and rumbling thunderstorms, the 8th annual Tour Des Chutes sent a strong message that, when it comes to surviving cancer, you are not alone.

Over 1,400 riders, from 16 states and ranging from age 2 to 93, pinned their numbers on and rode from 8 to 100 miles for somebody they know who has cancer or died from it. It was a picture perfect day, with the majestic snow capped Cascade Mountain Range as the soaring backdrop. The riders rode with a purpose: as in life, there were moments of reverence, a time to put the head down and grind away, and those special moments when the exuberance could barely be contained.

The TdC has come a long way in a short time. The Pacific Meso Center is proud to be a yellow jersey sponsor for the fourth year in a row. Last year, the TdC raised over $100,000, a record many thought would be tough to break. But this year, thanks to the generous support of sponsors like the PMC, the TdC exceeded expectations by raising over $125,000.

Since the TdC is an all volunteer effort, the lion share of that net revenue goes directly to a cancer survivorship at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. St. Charles provides cancer treatment as well as a bevy of useful support programs for both patients and their loved ones. A few of the these programs include a monthly DEFEAT cancer dinner, a Young Adult Survivor Network (age 18-40), the Soaring Spirits Camp (a fun retreat for children at nearby Suttle Lake), Nurse Navigators, Cancer and the Arts, and the Support Sisters and Brothers network, a mentorship program that matches one year survivor "veterans" with newly diagnosed patients.

Tour Des ChutesOn a day filled with joy, laughter, music, food and good old fashioned exercise induced salty sweat, there was unfortunately one dark cloud. The man who hatched the idea at his kitchen table with a few friends in 2004, Gary Bonacker, himself a brain tumor survivor, was forced to sit this years' event out. Gary was struck by a seizure a few days earlier and hospitalized. Dozens of friends wore a picture of Gary on their jersey to show their love and support for this incredibly strong, resilient and inspiring pillar of the community. We wish him (another) speedy recovery.

The organizers have reason to feel optimistic. The trend is upward and to the right. Ridership is up. The volunteer army is swelling. The organization gets crisper every year. The food and beverages are always top notch, as are the musicians who provide the upbeat entertainment. Several titans from the medical and pharmaceutical worlds have taken notice of this up and coming fundraiser in Central Oregon. Next year, we hope we can report not only more riders, but also more sponsorship money. None of it would be possible without the leadership of Gary and his devoted crew of directors and volunteers.

Thanks to everybody who helped make the 8th Annual Tour Des Chutes the best one ever.

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