Fundraiser Spotlight: Theresa Chartier

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MSU Gran Fondo participant and a 2016 top fundraiser, Theresa Chartier with her new Cannondale bike donated by Experience Grand Rapids. 

Theresa Chartier concedes she never has been a serious cyclist, yet, in a sense, she was a winner in this year’s MSU Gran Fondo.

She first rode in last year’s event, raising pledges of about $1,200 for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer research program. This year, she nearly doubled that amount, making her one of the 2016 MSU Gran Fondo’s top fundraisers.

For her, “it never was about raising a lot of money,” she said. “It was about supporting a friend.”

Actually, it was for two friends, a couple – Greg and Stephanie. Two years ago, Greg died of melanoma, and last year Stephanie invited Theresa to join her in the 2015 MSU Gran Fondo to help raise money for skin cancer research, including melanoma. With no training, Theresa set off from the starting line.

“Last year was pure willpower,” she said. “There were times I was barely moving. Every time I was struggling I’d say a little prayer for Greg.”

She rolled across the finish line dead last. This year, she set a new goal: she was determined not to finish last.

She achieved that and more, shaving 30 minutes off her previous time, and she raised $2,045 for skin cancer research.

While her motivation was to support one friend and honor the memory of another, “the flip side was we raised a lot of money for a great cause,” Theresa said, “and, hopefully, they’ll find a cure.”

She plans to ride in her third MSU Gran Fondo next year.

“It’s become a good cause,” she said, “and it’s become a part of my heart.”

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