I’m participating in the Pan Mass Challenge this summer. It will be my first time and so last night I attended an orientation meeting at PMC headquarters in Needham, MA. I gotta tell you, I’m such a weeper. This was just an information get-together but my eyes were wet half of the time. Billy Starr, who started this whole fund raising venture talked a bit and then showed a video about his mother, who died from melanoma at age 49. That was the inspiration for his first fund raising ride to Provincetown, MA in 1980.
And I sat there and watched and must admit that I looked from two points of view. One as a first-time participant in a huge fund-raising event. Two, from a marketing mindset and thinking how brilliant someone has been about getting the story out there, from that first ride and the tragedy that prompted it, up to all of the cancer survivors who now ride in the event. And there was a booklet handed out telling the stories of two dozen participants. Just their stories. And then a doctor got up to speak. This will be his third ride but it all began when he was diagnosed with non Hodgkins lymphoma a few years back. Friends of his rode that year in his honor and then one of them brought back to this guy the jersey (PMC gives each rider a jersey for participating) she’d worn when she rode and that group told him that it would be his turn next. And so he did. And there he was telling us his story. His story of surviving cancer and his story of now helping others survive cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, he then introduced his friend who has recently been diagnosed with the very same cancer he had. Tragic. Yet moving. And a number of the first-time riders are also cancer survivors. It was a very weepy evening for me.
So last weekend’s 100-mile ride was training for the Pan Mass Challenge. Over two days in August, I and 4700 other people will ride 200 miles. It’s do-able, but that second day is going to be a challenge. And I’m looking forward to the challenge of fund raising, which is also a first-time venture for me, and I’m guessing that part might be harder than the ride itself.