Jeanne St. Pierre began State service in 1994 as a case technician trainee at the Department of Health and Human Services, Keene District Office. A lifelong resident of NH, Jeanne’s deep roots and appreciation for strong community values made her a natural for taking on the critical role of working with families in need of public assistance, food stamp, health care and housing. Flash forward almost twenty years and Jeanne now spends her workdays at the Department of Information Technology, supporting Health and Human Services statewide. “Things have changed a lot but the commitment state employees have to our fellow men and women, and to our communities, is still there – stronger than ever.” So says the 49 year old as she begins this, the 17th day before the Prouty.
The Prouty is the largest fundraising event in northern New England where thousands of bikers, rowers and walkers converge on the college town of Hanover to raise money for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The two day event, which takes place July 13, – 14th draws thousands of participants and spectators.
“I have friends that are cycling enthusiasts and hearing their stories of long rides always seemed like a challenge I would happily leave to them, rather than to me. In the past couple of years though, too many people I have loved are struggling with cancer or have lost very tough battles with it. I like to donate when people are fundraising and was ready to sponsor folks whenever I could. But then I started feeling like there was more I needed to do.”
One thing Jeanne decided to do was to get healthy herself and get that athlete in her, the one that made her shine as a talented catcher in softball, back on track. “I still play ball but I hadn’t been taking good care of myself for a while. We have a really good health plan. The SEA has been a strong advocate in encouraging all state employees to get physically fit but before I just kept putting it off for one reason or another. So, in December 2010, I decided there was no time left for excuses and I used our gym club reimbursement benefit to join Planet Fitness. Within the first month, I started feeling a lot better – healthier than I had felt in a long time. Then I decided I needed to get some of my family and friends to join too because we are all in that same 40-50 something range, when taking care of our health matters so much.”
Within a year, Jeanne had recruited a half dozen people to join her at the gym – three of them state employees also using their gym club benefit! Several months have passed and thanks to Jeanne’s enthusiasm, they are all still regularly going to the gym and making real progress on their health. That wasn’t enough though for Jeanne…she knew she had to do more.
Earlier this year Jeanne decided that she needed a big personal goal that she could work toward…and the Prouty was it! “I really had no idea how I was going to make that 100 mile ride…I just knew I had to do it.” To prepare for the ride, Jeanne scheduled time with the gym’s fitness trainer. “It was part of our benefit (at Planet Fitness) and the experience was incredibly helpful. The trainer explained to me that a long ride required total body strengthening. Up until then I thought it had mostly to do with my legs, which were already really strong due to catching ball.” A customized strength building workout was developed for Jeanne that alternated cardio workouts with weight/strength exercises throughout the week and would be adjusted by Jeanne as she progressed toward her goal.
“I took last week off for some serious training – I needed to make sure I could get some really long rides in before the Prouty. I rode in 90+ degree weather just to make sure I could handle that kind of heat! I also took a ride – in a car – along the bike route for the Prouty. It looks tough but I am not giving up.”
Jeanne will be riding with approximately 3,200 other cycling enthusiasts on Saturday, July 14th. “Since I began working toward this goal, I have met quite a few people in state service that ride too and some of them are doing the Prouty as well.” In thinking about the people Jeanne has already lost to cancer, she notes “I’ll be in good company that day with a couple of angels watching over me, helping me along.”
If you want to help fight cancer and help Jeanne meet her fundraising goal, please donate here.
For more information about the Prouty and how you can still participate visit www.theprouty.org