Move to summer should boost Ride For A Cure fundraiser

Erin Prager at the first Ride for a Cure.
Erin Prager at the first Ride for a Cure.
| Monday, July 22, 2013, 4:03 p.m.

There is nothing Erin Prager wants more than to help kids fight pediatric cancer.

“I wish that it could be my job,” Prager, 24, said on her bus ride home from her job at March USA Inc. downtown.

That is why she has spent 10 hours a week for the last three months organizing Ride For A Cure 2, a fundraiser that will benefit Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellinic Dance Marathon — better known as THON.

As the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, THON benefits children fighting pediatric cancer.

It is also why her living room is vanishing underneath all of the donations she has received from 21 sponsors and counting.

Many of the donations will be raffled at the event.

“My couch has disappeared, but it's definitely all worth it,” said Prager, a 2012 graduate of Penn State University.

The fundraiser will be held on Aug. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Switchback Raceway on Route 8, which is where Prager's younger brother, Luke, 17, has practiced dirt bike racing for 10 years.

“It's a great thing to have in the racing community, and it gets everyone together and helps raise money for a good cause,” Luke Prager said.

Last year, Ride For A Cure raised almost $2,500 on Nov. 24, a frigid, snowy day that forced 100 riders and spectators into Switchback Raceway's indoor track.

Organizers hope that scheduling the event in the summer willattract more riders and spectators on a sunny day.

“Hopefully with nicer weather we can use our indoor and two outdoor tracks and get a much larger turnout,” said Rich Butler, owner of Switchback Raceway.

Proceeds from last year's event benefited THON and then dirt bike racer Jeremy Coast, 15, who was diagnosed with leukemia last September. Coast is now cancer free and will be able to attend this year's fundraiser.

“I never thought that this would ever happen, but it's a great feeling that people care enough to go out of their way to support people that are fighting cancer and it really touches you,” Coast said.

Admission for dirt bike and quad riders will be the standard fee of $30, half of which will benefit THON. Riders of all ages and skill levels will have open rides on all three tracks in 15- or 20-minute intervals.

Admission for spectators will be $10, all of which will benefit THON. All proceeds from raffles, which include everything from helmets worth up to $500, equipment and even year-long gym memberships, will benefit THON.

Erin Prager, who danced for 46 hours without sitting or sleeping at THON in 2011 to support kids with cancer, hopes to raise $5,000 at Ride For A Cure 2.

“It's extremely important to me to keep helping THON,” Prager said. “I wish I could do even more, and I plan to start my own non-profit next year to keep growing it.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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