HANOVER, N.H. — Organizers of The Prouty, an annual fundraiser for cancer research in New Hampshire, say donations and participation are down slightly this year.

The Valley News reports (http://bit.ly/2tUpK7u) organizers say that’s likely due to the event’s proximity this year to the Fourth of July holiday and last weekend’s storm damage. More than 4,000 participants are walking, cycling, rowing and golfing to raise money for Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, about 200 fewer than last year. The event runs Friday and Saturday.

Jean Brown, executive director of the Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, said Thursday the hope is for over $3 million in donations this year, a decrease of about $100,000. Some of the money comes from a fund and matching contributions.

The drop-off also comes after a lawsuit alleged that that some of the funds raised were instead being diverted for other expenses in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock system.

Mark Israel, former director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, sued in October alleging that Dartmouth-Hitchcock fired him in an act of retaliation after he objected to $6 million in funds raised for cancer research and other services being diverted to operating expenses. The lawsuit alleged $1.6 million of that money came from the Prouty.

The hospital denied it misused any funds, although in February, it pledged $6 million for “cancer research, patient support services and faculty recruitment.” State regulators said Dartmouth-Hitchcock hadn’t broken any laws in its use of the funds, and a judge later dismissed the suit, although Israel’s attorney is fighting that decision.

Karen Blum, who raised $20,177 last year walking the Prouty, said the lawsuit and controversy was unfortunate. But it didn’t deter her from raising upwards of $23,000 this year.

“That to me was a bump in the road,” she said. “It just didn’t occur to me to stop raising money.”

Many of the routes for the event, some of which go through Vermont, were changed after floods last weekend. One route that was part-gravel was canceled.

The fundraiser is named after Audrey Prouty, who lost her nine-year battle with ovarian cancer in 1982. Four of her nurses were so inspired by her courage, they committed to cycling 100 miles through the White Mountains to raise money and awareness for cancer research. That first ride raised $4,000.

The cancer center conducts research and provides care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, New Hampshire, and St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It also partners with 12 hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.


Information from: Lebanon Valley News, http://www.vnews.com