No Last Hurrah in the Fight Against Cancer

Before the birth for their first child, Mara and Richard Weissmann did their first Prouty. They've come back each year for 20 years, raising money and building close friendships. But when Mara's father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the Prouty's mission became even more personal.

Focus article photo

Mara and Richard Weissmann. Photo credit: Carolyn Simpson.

By Ann Klein

It was supposed to be a last hurrah.

Anticipating the birth of their first child in 1993, Mara and Richard Weissmann—attorneys living in Manhattan—planned a weekend getaway in New Hampshire's White Mountains. "We were about to have our lives altered in ways we couldn't imagine," Mara says now.

When her colleague Rick Horsch, a partner at her firm, learned of the Weissmanns' plans, he invited Mara and Rich to join him in Hanover for The Prouty. He went on to describe the annual Norris Cotton Cancer Center fundraiser named in honor of his aunt, Audrey Prouty.

A family tradition for 20 years

Some 20 years later, that last hurrah has become a beloved tradition for the Weissmanns, who have become Prouty enthusiasts, raising tens of thousands of dollars, building close friendships, and creating treasured memories along the way. Mara recalls a Prouty moment when she spotted an older gentleman ahead on the trail wearing a shirt with 'SURVIVOR' across the back. "I got in front of him, turned around, and gave him a hug," she recalls. "When you do an event like that, you don't feel like anybody's a stranger. You're all in it."

Prouty mission becomes personal

Prouty relationships sustained them in 2005 when Mara's father, nephrologist Dr. Stanley "Shep" Saperstein, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Two years later, it took his life. "The mission became very personal for us," Mara says.

Now members of the Cancer Center's Board of Advisors, and wanting to do more to support the Cancer Center's work, the Weissmanns recently established the Richard A. and Mara S. Weissmann Fund for Cancer Prevention to support Norris Cotton Cancer Center's prevention education programs in the region. This community outreach effort is an important part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's commitment to promoting population health outside the walls of its facilities, and one that relies heavily on philanthropic support.

Fund honors pioneer in patient education

"My father was a pioneer in patient education," Mara says. "What Norris Cotton Cancer Center is doing on a grassroots level really epitomizes what he did in his profession."

Taking their giving a step further, the Weissmanns have also made a planned gift by including the Cancer Center in their wills, directing that proceeds from their estate be used to establish a permanent endowed fund at Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Meanwhile, you can be sure Rich and Mara will be at The Prouty again this summer, and it won't be their last hurrah. Because there are still miles to go in the fight against cancer.

Learn how you can support Norris Cotton Cancer Center's life-saving patient care, research, and cancer prevention work through the Prouty here.

July 05, 2013