When Blair Brooks returned to the Upper Valley as a physician in 1989, he quickly became aware of The Prouty. At the time, biking was his sport, and he soon became an annual participant. Blair rode regularly, including one memorable year, in hurricane-like conditions, when he rode the 100 mile course, and followed it up with a 25 mile ride with family later in the day. “I was drenched,” he recalls.
As a physician working at DHMC, Blair felt a connection with the event through the patients it helps, and the other caregivers who are so dedicated to making a difference in those patients’ lives. The thought that the money raised would have a direct impact on his life was not considered at the time, Blair says.
All that changed in 2016, when the Norwich resident was diagnosed with cancer. It came as a surprise; “No one in my family had cancer,” Blair says. Going through treatment and recovery, Blair saw firsthand how The Prouty helps cancer survivors. “I was the one benefitting as a patient in the Cancer Center,” he says.
Though the money raised through The Prouty has a great impact on cancer research, it also helps increase education, and support services offered to patients at DHMC. For Blair, a good deal of that support came in the form of attending art and writing therapy groups. “Writing is great therapy,” says Blair. Not only do patients work through their illness and treatment with the help of writing, or creating art, they are able to share their work with others, as the works created are displayed in various units at DHMC. Money raised from The Prouty helps fund the wide range of support services offered at the Cancer Center, including physical activities such as massage and exercise.
Though The Prouty is most known as a biking event, other activities also raise money, including walking, golf, and rowing. Serving as president of the Friends of Hanover Crew since 2007, Blair is now very active in the rowing portion of the event. Since becoming involved with The Prouty several years back, this group “has raised well over $1 million,” Blair proudly says. The Friends of Hanover Crew is consistently one of the top Prouty fundraisers each year.
For Blair, the family aspect of The Prouty is one of the most important components of the event. “Our family is fully committed to it,” he says. Both his daughters, who live in other parts of the country, regularly return to take part.