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