In August, I will participate in my fifth Pan Mass Challenge. The event has become an important part of my life. In the past several years, I learned that two dear friends and two relatives were diagnosed with cancer (breast, lung, thyroid, and colon). Three lost their lives to the disease. When they first told me they had cancer, I was struck with disbelief. However, when the magnitude of their illness truly sank in, the feeling turned to helplessness. I often wondered what I could do to help them overcome cancer. While their strength was being taken, I struggled for the appropriate words to say, and actions to take.

When I finally heard about the PanMass Challenge, then I knew there was something meaningful I could do to honor them. By joining the PanMass team, I knew I could become one of the tens of thousands of cyclists who call upon their strength to help others. Riding in the PMC is a way to channel physical, mental and emotional energy into something much greater than the athletic accomplishment that is gained by riding up to 192 miles. PMC cyclists use their strength to help those who cannot. With each mile pedaled, the PMC brings researchers closer to finding cures for various types of cancer that affect millions of people each year. Billy Starr said it best when he wrote that a “unified force of people made whole by the belief in a single mission has the ability to improve the human condition.” It is one small step in the direction of finding a cure and eradicating cancer.

The PMC, which began in 1980, is the nation’s oldest and most successful bicycling fundraising event and shows what the determination of each individual can do. The event has been instrumental in helping Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s clinicians and researchers learn more about cancer and its causes, and to develop new, increasingly effective treatments for this deadly disease.

The Jimmy Fund is a principal fundraising arm of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Named for one of Dr. Farber’s young patients, the Jimmy Fund is widely regarded as New England’s favorite charity with individual and corporate supporters throughout the country. Corporate sponsorship and a vast volunteer network enable the Jimmy Fund to keep operating costs to a minimum. In fact, last year, 99 cents of every dollar raised went to the charity.

I am proud to be a part of this team and that is why I ride!