The 18th Annual Tour de La Porte (TDL) kicked off Friday evening with its 5k trail run event. The first of several events that will take place over the weekend, the trail run adds a singular aspect to the many foot races of the TDL.
“The trail run is fun because it’s so different and unique,” said Liz Sawaya, Special Events Coordinator for the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. “The amazing scenery makes it laid back but still competitive, and runners love it.”
For the past 18 years, the TDL has been successfully raising funds to support cancer patients.
“One hundred percent of the funds go to assisting patients directly,” explained Maria Fruth, President and CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. “Whether that be providing transportation, medication, wigs, medical treatment, you name it and we will help them with it.”
The inspiration for the TDL stemmed from humble beginnings, as the brainchild of La Porte native Larry Noel.
“Years ago, I rode my bike from Seattle to Washington D.C. for the American Lung Association,” Noel said. “I had a stop on my route here in La Porte and wanted to find a way to give back to the area.”
“I’d known Maria’s husband since 5th grade, and I thought she would be the person to help me put this together,” Noel continued. “We hosted the first TDL 18 years ago, and it’s just taken off since then— we’ve now raised over $700,000 for cancer patients.”
For Kim Ramsey, Chairperson for the TDL, the three-day event holds meaning on both a personal and community level.
“I ran my first half marathon here in 2011,” Ramsey said. “This event is special to me not just because of that, but because of the mission that it serves, helping those with cancer in their time of need. It’s a way to create a healthier La Porte by bringing the community together for a greater cause.”
Beginning with Friday’s trail race, the TDL brought the community closer together while strengthening some family ties as well. Mother-daughters trio Nancy White, Jennifer Fontaine, and Denice Dudy ran the race together for the first time this year.
“These two have participated a few times already, but they finally convinced me to come out a join them this year,” Dudy said. “I’m looking forward to the biking portion, and with my mom and sister by my side and it’s going to be amazing for us.”
Over 150 people registered for the trail run. Patiently, they toed the starting line at Soldiers Memorial Park, awaiting the official send off at 5:30pm. Runner Steven Sawaya has been participating in the TDL since 2015, continually improving his personal goals each year.
“I’ve done all three events of the TDL every year since 2015,” Sawaya said. “When I started, I was close to 300 pounds, and each year I try to test myself to get better. I love the competitive nature, community involvement, and the cause it serves. The trail run is definitely my favorite part, so I’m excited to kick things off with that tonight.”
Becca Tuholski was the overall female winner and has been running these trails since she was a teenager.
“I felt really great out there today, the weather was perfect,” Tuholski said. “I grew up running here during my high school cross country and track days, and I absolutely love these trails.”
Tuholski had a great run and is looking forward to participating in the upcoming half marathon and biking events.
“Tomorrow I’ll run the half marathon with my mom, and then Sunday will be the biking portion with my dad, so it’s going to be a really fun weekend with them.”
The TDL continued through the weekend with half marathon, 10k, 5k, and 5k walk competitions on Saturday.
For more information on the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte’s Tour de La Porte, visit their website https://tourdelaporte.org/.