Five years ago, Stephen Romero was buying skis at a shop in Killington, Vt., when he met the parent of a Union student.
The parent told Romero, an associate professor of psychology, about a bike ride to raise money for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire.
An avid cyclist, Romero biked 100 miles that first year he rode in The Prouty, named for Audrey Prouty, who was battling ovarian cancer when the first fundraiser was held in 1982. The fundraiser has expanded to include walking routes, rowing and golf and now attracts more than 5,000 participants.
This time around, Romero plans to bike 100 miles a day for three consecutive days beginning Thursday, July 11. He will cycle from Hanover, N.H., to Manchester and back.
He will be joined by his wife, Karen Bilowith, for part of the ride. The couple hopes to generate at least $2,500 in pledges for the event, which raised more than $2.6 million last year.
"I've done charity races before to benefit things like the Vermont Food Bank and diabetes," said Romero, who has had several family members, including his father, battle cancer. "But this one is much more involved. It's really a life-affirming event."
Romero has been training for months for the Prouty, bicycling more than 200 miles a week. He often bikes 47 miles roundtrip from his home in Saratoga to campus. He has never ridden 300 miles in a week, let alone over three days.
But when he climbs aboard his customized Independent Fabrication, a carbon fiber and titanium frame bike (a gift to himself when he received tenure at Union six years ago), Romero's thoughts will shift to those touched by cancer.
"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "I may be slow, but I'm going to pull it off."
To sponsor Romero and his wife, click here.