In honor of the 30th anniversary Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, the PMC blog will take you on a ride through history. Today we continue 30 years in 30 weeks with a look back at the PMC in 1991. We’ll coast through the event’s history, featuring a new year each week, as we lead up to the 30th annual ride on Aug. 1 and 2.
Check out past 30 Years in 30 weeks posts here.
Send your PMC story to Stephanie@teakmedia.com
30 years in 30 weeks
In 1991, Kevin Barrett and his wife Debbie got into biking and took their new bikes down to Cape Cod for a weekend trip without the kids.
The Barretts’ camped at Nickerson State Park and spent a wonderful Saturday riding to the seashore and back. On Sunday morning, Kevin Barrett rode down the rail trail and he stumbled upon the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.
“Much to my surprise, what was a quiet and peaceful parking lot just a day earlier was buzzing with excitement and 100s of bikers,” Barrett said. “I was dumbfounded to say the least.”
He asked a volunteer who was making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches what was going on. The enthusiastic volunteer quickly told Barrett the history of the PMC and why there were 1,100 riders in the event. Those riders would raise more than $1.5 million in 1991 for cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund.
“I was born in Mass. so I knew of the Jimmy Fund, from the collections at Fenway and in local theaters on Saturdays in the summer. But the PMC was action to a cause, and to a cause that had personal meaning to me, since just that year we had been told that my sister’s husband had cancer,” Barrett said. “That Sunday morning in Brewster is when I committed myself to the cause of the PMC.”
A year later, Barrett was signed up for his first PMC. The two-day ride to Provincetown was already full, so Barrett registered for the one day Saturday ride. During opening ceremonies, Billy Starr mentioned that a few people had backed out last minute.
Barrett immediately walked over to Starr and asked if there would now be a bed available at Mass. Maritime Academy and if he could extend his ride to two days.
Barrett rode all the way to Provincetown and never looked back. Since that year, he’s been a PMC rider and volunteer.
The 30th anniversary ride in 2009 will be an emotional one for Barrett and his family.
On Jan. 8, his wife Debbie died from breast cancer. An amazingly strong woman, Debbie had survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1997 and eight months of chemotherapy in 2006 after a lump was removed from her breast. But in October 2008, Debbie received a grim cancer diagnosis and lost her battle with the disease just a few months later.
“This will be my 19th year involved with the PMC – I have ridden 9 times and for the past 15 years I have volunteered, and yes there were years that I both rode and volunteered,” Kevin Barrett writes on his PMC profile. “My children, family, friends and I will continue the Fight against Cancer in any way we can. We have started a PMC team in the spirit of my loving wife Debbie, dedicated to raise as much money as we can, please sponsor anyone from Team Debbie that will honor my wife and her battle with cancer!”
PMC 1991 facts
190 total miles