Submitted by Allison Epstein, Pan-Mass Challenge
On Aug. 4 and 5, 16 residents from Northborough pedal their way into fundraising history as participants in the 33rd annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), the nation’s pioneer charity bike-a-thon that raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country. They join 5,500 cyclists who ride with the collective goal of raising $36 million to support adult and pediatric cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.
PMC riders range in age from 13 to 88. Some are seasoned tri-athletes while others are weekend warriors having trained for this event alone. Most PMC participants ride in honor of a family member or friend lost to, or being treated for, cancer. All share a passion and desire to one day find a cure for the disease. The average PMC cyclist trains for three months, solicits 40 sponsors, and raises more than $6,000. Doctors ride alongside their patients; grandparents ride with their grandchildren; and others show support from the sidelines in the form of donations and cheers. More than 300 riders are cancer survivors or current patients.
“The PMC is the gold standard of athletic fundraising events,” said Billy Starr, Pan-Massachusetts Challenge founder and executive director. “PMCers are as committed to raising money for cancer research as they are to pedaling the miles. PMC cyclists are all heart and soul.”
During PMC weekend, individual cyclists become part of one family. The camaraderie shared by 5,500 cyclists, more than 3,000 volunteers, and thousands of spectators, is one reason cyclists from 36 states and eight countries return to Massachusetts each August to participate in the PMC.
No other single athletic event raises or contributes more money to charity than the PMC. Since 1980, the PMC has raised $338 million for adult and pediatric cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. The PMC gives 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the Jimmy Fund, a rate of fundraising that is nearly unequaled within the $3 billion athletic fundraising event industry. In 2011, the PMC raised $35 million, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the philanthropic support of Dana-Farber. More than 230,000 individual contributions were made to last year’s PMC fundraising campaign.
The PMC is a fully supported bike-a-thon — with food and water stops, mechanical and medical assistance, luggage transportation, and lodging — that runs through 46 towns across Massachusetts. Cyclists choose from 11 routes of varying mileage designed to cater to all levels of cycling strength and time availability. There are six two-day routes that range from 153 to 190 miles and five one-day rides that range from 25 to 110 miles. In 2012, cyclists are required to raise between $500 and $4,300 to ride in the PMC. This commitment to the fundraising portion of the PMC is a testament to riders’ dedication to the cause and their belief in the PMC mission.
The PMC is presented by the Red Sox Foundation and the New Balance Foundation. To become a virtual rider, or make a financial contribution to a rider from your town, visit www.pmc.org, or call 800-WE-CYCLE. Checks can be made payable to PMC, 77 Fourth Ave., Needham, Mass. 02494.