‘Cruising for the Cure’ in a wooden classic

Rick Thie’s desire to bring hope to individuals and families affected by pancreatic cancer has been fueled by his love for classic boats – and vice versa.

Thie, event founder and co-chair of “Cruising for the Cure,” grew up in a family of boaters, and he created the annual classic boat show in northern Michigan after his mother, Jane H. Thie, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Prior to the diagnosis, Rick and his wife, Ellie, purchased a boat of the same make and model that Rick’s parents owned when he was growing up, a 1953 Chris-Craft 22-foot Sportsman Utility. Restoring the boat took on a whole new meaning after doctors discovered Jane Thie’s illness; the Chris-Craft became a focal point during her treatment, something that she could look forward to. Jane feared she may never get the chance to ride in the boat, but thankfully it was completed in August 2006, and she enjoyed one of her last rides in it.

After Jane passed away in January 2007, her family created “Cruising for the Cure” as a memorial and fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research. Rick gathered hobbyists who shared his passion for the cause and planned a photo shoot near Bellaire, Mich., to produce a classic boat calendar. The group began with 15 boats, but word of mouth quickly pushed that number to 48. Seven years later, the event has grown into a fun-filled two-day weekend gathering, and the Jane H. Thie Memorial Fund has now donated more than $70,000 to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.

The 2014 edition of “Cruise for the Cure: Torch Lake Antique and Classic Wooden Boat Rendezvous” kicked off with a Friday night “Party on the Pier,” featuring great food and beverages along with a silent auction. On Saturday, the boats cruised along the southern shoreline of Clam Lake, circled back through Clam River and out onto Torch Lake. Classic and antique wooden boats built prior to and including 1969, as well as boats of wooden construction built after 1969, were docked at Dewitt Marine and the Dockside restaurant. A display of vintage wooden outboards and non-powered watercraft were also on exhibit at Butch’s Tackle & Marine. Seeing these timeless wonders on display was an experience that no boat lover should miss, and it was all for a great cause.

“Through this event we are continuously fighting for a cure, but most importantly we are building positive memories that can be cherished for a lifetime,” Rick said.

Many of those involved were friends of Jane Thie, and they enjoy coming together each year to keep her passion for the boats and the area alive while also helping to fund cancer research.

“It’s amazing how many people have been affected by cancer. There are a number of cancer survivors on our board of directors and event planning committees,” Rick said. “Moving stories are told throughout the group, and the passion for the boats and the cause are passed down through family generations.”

For more information about Cruising for the Cure or to donate or purchase a 2015 commemorative calendar and/or apparel to support the cause, please visit www.cruiseforcure.org.

Cruising for the Cure Torch Lake Rendezvous is promoted by the Jane H. Thie Memorial Fund, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The fund exists and is dedicated to help generate the charitable contributions required to advance current and future efforts by medical researchers in their quest to bring about a cure to those afflicted with pancreatic cancer.

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