With helmets fastened, bike wheels pumped full of air, and a strong desire to improve the lives of cancer patients throughout La Porte County, hundreds of cyclists pedaled their way through the 16th Annual Tour de La Porte 100, 60, 40, 25, 15, and five mile bike trails.
Cycling was the final portion of of the three-day-long event, which also included a 5K Trail Run/Walk, a Half-Marathon Run, a 5K Road Run/Walk, and a 10K Road Run. For over a decade, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte has donated all proceeds from Tour de La Porte to La Porte County cancer patients. All together, Tour de La Porte has raised over $700,000, which has been spent on the various medical needs of cancer patients. This year, they hoped that their 1,200 participants would aid them in raising over $70,000 dollars for patient care.
Participants were happy to help, especially since most of them have strong connections with cancer survivors.
Bob and Steve Wellinski rode in honor of their mother and brother, Pat and Greg Wellinski, who have both suffered from cancer. The riders have participated in the Tour de La Porte for years because it gives them a unique opportunity to experience some of the physical difficulty that their relatives face daily.
“Seeing what [our mother and brother] went through physically throughout their battle of cancer, we usually push ourselves a little further throughout this ride. We go a little farther than what our bodies can take. That way, we can experience a little bit of their pain and suffering,” said Bob Wellinski.
“It brings empathy,” chimed Steve Wellinski. “The cancer center on 421 is full of amazing people, and this layers into the support that they give to cancer patients. This event has a big impact on all of the work that is done in support of cancer patients.”
The Tour de La Porte is fueled by empathetic, dedicated people such as the Wellinski brothers, and the money it raises goes directly to locals. The fact that participants can witness the positive outcome of their work firsthand inspires people to come to La Porte to support the event. Tour de La Porte Committee Member Jim Vanes has been a part of the event since it began, and he was glad to see yet another successful gathering of generous people.
“Not only does Tour de La Porte help cancer patients and their families, but it has also become an event that people know about outside of La Porte. People are starting to come in from different areas, and that’s what makes it such a great community event. My favorite part of the event is the camaraderie and getting together with everyone,” said Vanes.
Cyclists exemplified the camaraderie Vanes discussed at stops along the route. Firefly Farms was one of eight SAG stops where cyclists gathered to enjoy homemade meals and get to know each other. As the athletes enjoyed the gorgeous weather and ambiance of Firefly Farms and other stops, they discussed how cancer impacted their lives and the lives of others.
Tour de La Porte’s overall goal is to promote living a healthy lifestyle and to raise money for cancer patients. Through encouraging open conversation and athletic activities, they reached that goal for the 16th year in a row.
For more information about the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, please visit http://www.hflaporte.org/.