Monthly Archives: June 2009

30 years in 30 weeks — 2004

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 2004. 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

30 years in 30 weeks


2004 marked the 25th annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.

Coincidentally, it was also the same year the Red Sox won the World Series after 86 painful years.  Maybe having the PMC 25th anniversary logo on the Green Monster for six weeks of the baseball season had something to do with the team’s success?

The PMC celebrated its own success in 2004, donating $20 million to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute thanks to more than 3,700 riders and 2,200 volunteers. That record breaking donation was 20 percent more than the year before and was twice as much ever contributed to a charity by an athletic fundraiser in the country.

More than 1,000 members of the PMC community celebrated at a beautiful 25th anniversary gala,  held a the then brand new Boston Convention and Expo Center, where the $20 million donation was unveiled and presented to Dana-Farber. Guests also had the chance to have their photo taken with the Red Sox World Series trophy.

“The evening was memorable – like the event itself,” said PMC founder Billy Starr said in 2004. “It was very poignant for many people, particularly those who have lost loved ones to cancer. It is overwhelming when you understand the impact this kind of money might have on accelerating the cures for cancer.”

Starr also received his own honor at the 25th anniversary celebration when Dr. Edward Benz, DFCI president, awarded Starr the Sidney Farber Medical Research Award. The award recognizes those who make an exceptional contribution philanthropically, scientifically, or legislatively to reduce the burden of cancer on society. In receiving the award, Starr joined prestigious honorees Sen. Edward Kennedy and the Boston Red Sox.

 Starr, Benz, Sidney Farber Medal

PMC 2004 facts

3,762 riders

2,200 volunteers

$20 million raised

190 total miles

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PMC in the News

The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is full of amazing riders and volunteers who all have wonderful stories to share.

Meet some of our riders (and support them in the PMC at as they have been featured in some prominent local media coverage:

Brothers Anthony, 22, Matt, 20, and Mike, 16, will ride the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge in honor of their father, Tony, 52, a two-time nasal cancer survivor who was treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “I was pretty young the first time my dad was diagnosed so I didn’t really understand, but the second time was much harder,” says Matt. “My siblings and I helped out a lot and we had family members chip in, but my mom, who is an angel, was able to take care of my sick father while raising seven children.” Read about the Galluzzo’s in the Eagle Tribune and watch their story on NECN.

Corrine McCabe is a first time PMCer, riding one year after her daughter, Kayleigh, bravely beat cancer and was PMC Pedal Partner. They had such a great experience as a Pedal Partner family, Corrine decided to join Team LEGS this year. Read her story in the MetroWest Daily News.

The Boston Globe featured this heartwarming story about PMC Kids Ride star Emma Zeiger, who remembers her dad through cycling and fundraising.

Another PMC kid is all grown up. Read this story about Ryan Wilkinson, who started the first kids ride in his hometown. Ryan is headed to college this fall.

The Daily News Transcript reports on this new PMC team, called Team Vlad. A group of doctors, nurses and staff from Brigham & Women’s will ride and raise money in honor of their mentor, Dr. Vlad Formanek, who is battling cancer. And here’s more on Team Vlad from NECN.

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30 Years in 30 Weeks — 2003

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 2003. 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

30 years in 30 weeks


The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge and the Red Sox became partners in 2003, but the connection between the two organizations was interwoven long before.

Long before he became the Red Sox CEO, Larry Lucchino was fighting a battle with non-Hodkin’s lymphoma. Lucchino was living in Maryland in 1985 and  was head of the Baltimore Orioles when he was diagnosed. He looked for the best cancer treatment center he could find. He came to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and was treated by Dr. Lee Nadler. Today, he credits Dr. Nadler with saving his life.

Dr. Nadler has been a PMC rider and supporter for 10 years and has raised nearly $134,000 for research and cancer treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It was only natural for the Lucchinos, and then the Red Sox, to get involved with the PMC when they came to Boston in 2002 and Lucchino become the team’s president and CEO.

In 2002, Larry Lucchino was a guest speaker at the PMC opening ceremony and his wife Stacey rode in her first PMC, alongside Dr. Nadler.

Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino

When it was time to think about the 2003 PMC, the Red Sox stepped up to the plate. The year also marked the 50th anniversary of the Red Sox partnership with the Jimmy Fund.

“To commemorate this milestone and further intensify the Red Sox’ commitment to cancer research, the Red Sox Foundation made the single largest donation in its history by contributing $1.4 million to the PMC over two years,” Larry Lucchino wrote in the PMC yearbook. The team became the PMC’s presenting sponsor.

It was the first time a professional sports franchise became a presenting sponsor of an amateur event.

Furthering the Red Sox’ commitment to the cause, the organization formed Team 9, named for the legendary Ted Williams. Captained by Stacey Lucchino, Team 9 included Red Sox front office staff and players’ wives who rode in the PMC and raised money for the Jimmy Fund. The team has grown ever since.
The first ever PMC Night at Fenway was celebrated in July 2003. A group of PMC veterans and cancer survivors, called the “Fenway 24” were chosen to ride on the field at Fenway Park during the pregame ceremony.

The Fenway 24

The Fenway 24

The 24 survivors marked the 24 years of the PMC. With the Green Monster looming above and in front of 36,000 fans, the Fenway 24 cycled around the warning track just before Dr. Nadler and Dana-Farber President Edward Benz threw out the ceremonial first pitches.


Warming up to throw out the first pitch

Warming up to throw out the first pitch

A few months later, the PMC was back at Fenway for an off-season celebration.  The Red Sox hosted the 2003 Check Presentation Ceremony right on the field at Fenway Park. The record-breaking $16.2 million donation to the Jimmy Fund was presented by Billy Starr to Benz while standing on first base. PMCers got to take a swing in the batting cage and tour the historic ballpark.

Billy presents the donation to Dana-Farber
Billy presents the donation to Dana-Farber


PMC 2003 facts

3,584 riders

1,900 volunteers

$16.2 million raised

190 total miles

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30 Years in 30 Weeks — 2002

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 2002. 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

30 years in 30 weeks


Before January 2002, Anita Bekenstein, Pam Washek and Jean Seiden were Wayland neighbors, mothers to a total of 10 children, and Pan-Massachusetts Challenge cyclists who rode both for the sport and their desire to raise money for cancer research. Each says they’d been blessed with good lives, healthy children, secure family lives and they were compelled to show their appreciation by helping others.  They never thought the “others” they would be helping included themselves.

It was only weeks into 2002 when Seiden, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bekenstein and Washek were among the first people she informed; they were there for her immediately and in every way, as good friends are.

Bekenstein, who had always wanted to start a PMC team from Wayland, called Washek and together they turned their concern into a PMC team in their friend’s honor.  “We rallied together to do something positive during a very upsetting time,” Bekenstein says. Team Jean was born and Wayland residents began signing up en mass.

“I didn’t want the team to be about me,” Seiden says. “When I was first diagnosed, I was focused on just my cancer, and my issues, but it was through the inspiration of Team Jean that I was able to redirect my focus and I understood how we could all use this to help others.”

And then lightning struck twice. Pam Washek, 37, learned that a shoulder pain she’d tended for years was not a sports injury. It was synovial cell sarcoma.

“When Pam was diagnosed we were all in shock,” Bekenstein notes. “Pam was our team co-captain; she wasn’t supposed to get cancer. The randomness of it all hit home pretty strongly.” Bekenstein recalled a birthday party they’d had for Jean soon after her breast cancer had been diagnosed. “Jean had said, ‘I’m just the first among us.’ We knew she was right, but we didn’t expect the next case to be so soon or for Pam to be the next victim.” The team slogan instantly became “We’re Ridin’ For Jean Seiden and Pedaling For Pam.”

To Washek, the diagnosis felt like the brakes locked into place while she was pedaling hard in high gear. “My life came to a screeching halt,” Washek says. “The thing about cancer is that it’s not just about you. It affects your whole family, your friends and your life every day throughout the process.”

Seiden and Washek banned together and were supported by their many teammates. They turned their radiation treatments into an opportunity to train and, joined by many Team Jean members, they rode 40 miles round-trip from Wayland to Boston for their periodic treatments. Showing up in the waiting room in their red “Team Jean” shirts with biking gear in hand, the women served as role models for the many other cancer patients awaiting their own treatments. “It gave them strength to see us show up in our biking gear,” Washek said. “We weren’t going to sit around sympathizing; if we felt strong enough to ride, we rode.”

Washek scheduled her surgery for the first week in August so she could ride in the PMC and join Seiden on stage at the Wellesley start where she addressed 1,300 riders as they set off to Bourne. “Months ago,” Seiden told the riders, “my only connection to cancer was through others – their pain, their sickness, their survival or death. This disease would NEVER touch me personally because I was too young, too healthy, too much of a mom to be bothered with cancer. There was no history of cancer in my family tree. My husband had already dedicated his career to fighting this disease through research and clinical care; I was surely immune to this possibility.”

The women of Team Jean in 2002

The women of Team Jean in 2002

Seiden’s address highlighted the many connections the women’s cancers had ignited. Over the months, meal chains were formed ensuring that feeding their families would be one responsibility they could shed while recovering from chemo and radiation treatments. Babysitting support was prevalent, offers to run errands plentiful.

Oh yes, and then there are the financial contributions that the team’s efforts brought to the PMC. Team Jean raised more than $500,000 for life saving cancer care and research to help make up $15 million gift in 2002 to the Jimmy Fund.

Jean Seiden lost her battle with cancer in October 2006. She rode the PMC six times while undergoing treatment for cancer.  Pam Washek has been cancer free for five years and will ride in 2009 in memory of Jean. Since its inception in 2002, Team Jean has raised $2.4 million for cancer research and treatment.


PMC 2002 facts

 3,396 riders

1,878 volunteers

$15 million raised

190 total miles

First NECN live Opening Ceremony

Virtual Rider introduced

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More PMC Kids Rides this weekend

PMC Kids Rides are underway all over Massachusetts and beyond. And behind every ride is a personal story.

Like the story of the Hayes family of Bedford.

Cassi 13, Meaghan 11, and Mikey Hayes, 8, are all involved in this year’s PMC Bedford Kids Ride. They want to raise money to fight cancer in honor of their father, Michael Hayes, 46, who was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in the spring of 2008.

“We made the decision to keep the kids in the loop from the get-go,” says Anne, Michael’s wife and mother of the three Hayes children. “We wanted to be up front with them about everything, and when the opportunity came to get them involved in the PMC Bedford Kids Ride, they jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”

The children, along with many of their friends, rode with Michael’s name on their bikes.  Together the three kids raised more than $4,000 for the 2008 PMC Bedford Kids Ride in their dad’s honor. In the summer of 2008, Michael underwent painful radiation and chemotherapy.  When he began to lose his hair, the Hayes children decided that since it was going to fall out anyway, they should be able to style it for him.

“We took polls and suggestions through email and gave him racing stripes along the sides of his head and a wavy Mohawk before Meaghan did the honors of shaving him bald,” says Anne. “We laughed our way through it together.”

Ultimately, Mike had to have surgery to remove the affected lymph nodes on his neck. Staples were used during the initial healing process that left a 10-inch scar on his neck

“We did our best to make light of the situation whenever we could,” says Anne. “We called him ’Franken Daddy‘ and held a contest with our neighbors, friends and family. The one to come up with the coolest back story for the scar would be named the winner.”  A friend of the family cast the winning entry: The story would be that Michael had turned himself into a human PEZ dispenser.

Michael got the “all clear” report following his surgery in January.  He has returned to work and is doing well.  He will be riding alongside with the kids as a route leader during Saturday’s ride.

“I know it means a great deal to Michael that the kids are riding for him,” says Anne. “The community in Bedford has just been amazing we couldn’t have made it through this without them. Now, for them to see us all at this Saturday’s ride, healthy and doing well means to world to us. We will make sure that this event is a staple on our family calendar for many summers to come.”       

The Bedford PMC Kids Ride will be held Saturday June 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at John Glenn Middle School. More than 400 children are expected.

Also pedaling this weekend on the way to meeting a $1 million kids ride fundraising goal are children from Bolton, Concord, Hingham, Exeter N.H., and Lawrenceville, N.J.

Here are the details:

Bolton is hosting its 4th PMC Kids Ride, expecting more than 150 children, ages 2-14, to ride to raise money for the PMC. The ride will be at the Florence Sawyer School on Sunday, June 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Three routes present mileage for different riding abilities.

Concord will have its PMC Kids Ride at the Middlesex School on Sunday, June 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. These young riders, ages 5-15, will have a choice of one of the four routes, up to a max of 15 miles. A party with music, refreshments, a kid’s art show, and more will be hosted after the ride.

Exeter, N.H. is having its 2nd annual Exeter/Statham PMC Kids Ride for riders ages 3-13. The ride will be at Timberland Industrial Park from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, June 14.

Hingham expects more than 500 young cyclists for its annual PMC Kids Ride on Sunday, June 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hingham High School. These riders, ages 3-15, will have a choice of three routes up to seven miles long.

Lawrenceville, N.J. will have its 2nd annual PMC Kids Ride this Sunday, June 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Lawrenceville School for children ages 2-12 years old.  After the ride, there will be refreshments, music, activities and more.

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Billy Starr Honored with Nonprofit Leadership Award

BOSTON (June 8, 2009) – The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network presented its Leadership Award to Pan Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) Founder and Executive Director Billy Starr in recognition of his 30 years of leadership that has made the PMC the most successful athletic fundraising event in the nation.  The June 8 Statehouse ceremony was attended by Governor Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley as well as state representatives and members from some of the state’s most recognized nonprofit organizations. 

Billy Starr and State Representative Lida Harkins.
Billy Starr and State Representative Lida Harkins.

The ceremony was held on the second annual Nonprofit Awareness Day, instituted in 2008 and signed into law by the Governor to officially recognize nonprofit organizations and underscore the fact that nonprofit organizations employ  14 percent of Massachusetts’ work force.

Starr’s selection was unanimous among the judges, according to MNN spokesperson Heather Hartshorn. The PMC’s efficiency, its 100 percent charity pass through rate, and that it raises and contributes more money to charity than any other athletic fundraising event in the county, were among the reasons Starr was honored for his leadership.

The PMC celebrates its 30th ride on Aug. 1 and 2, 2009. Since its founding in 1980, the PMC has raised and contributed nearly $240 million to cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute though its Jimmy Fund. Billy Starr was a pioneer of the athletic fundraising industry, which today generates $2 billion for health and human services organizations around the nation. The PMC has become known as the “gold standard” of athletic fundraising events.

Starr is known for his ability to motivate people and to attract successful organizations to the PMC. He sought out the sponsorship of the Boston Red Sox and, both of which have become multi-million dollar partnerships over many years. Starr instituted a policy by which riders had to secure their PMC participation with credit cards so that even if they were not able to ride or raise the fundraising minimum, they would be personally accountable to contribute the sum owed. This was a bold move back in 1996. It was Starr’s philosophy that participating in the PMC was a fundraising effort, and if all went right, fundraisers were entitled to a great bike ride as well. This attitude – put the charity first – is Starr’s mission, message and modus operandi. It’s what separates the PMC from other a-thons and what has enabled the PMC to become so successful.  From the start, Billy Starr never took his eye off the bottom line of raising money for cancer research.

The loss of his mother, uncle and cousin to cancer motivated Starr, then 29, to establish the PMC. He’s ridden in and fundraised for the PMC every year since. In addition to running the organization and bringing in sponsorship dollars, Starr has personally raised more than $1 million for the PMC. Billy Starr walks his talk.

The MNN is a statewide association of nonprofit organizations that supports the nonprofit sector through advocacy, public awareness and capacity building. Established in 2007, the Nonprofit Network has grown to more than 500 members.

The Awards were judged by Laurie Dopkins, senior research associate, program coordinator, Northeastern University School of Social Science; Donna Haig Friedman, center director and research associate professor, University of Massachusetts Boston; Kristen McCormack, executive-in-residence, lecturer, faculty director, Boston University Public and Nonprofit Management Program; Melissa Morriss-Olson, graduate school dean, professor of Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy, Bay Path College.


About the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge

Now in its 30th year, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is a pioneer of the athletic fundraising industry and today raises more money for charity than any other single event in the country. In 2008, the PMC raised $35 million, and since 1980 it has raised nearly $240 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. The PMC, an annual bike-a-thon that spans up to 190 miles, is a model of fundraising efficiency. In 2008, the PMC donated 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause. The PMC generates half of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor. Some 240,000 individual contributions were made in last year’s fundraising campaign. The PMC is sponsored by the Boston Red Sox Foundation and The 2009 PMC will be held on August 1 and 2. For more information about the PMC, visit or call 800-WE-CYCLE.

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PMC is a top Volunteer Vacation Destination

The New York Daily News named the Pan-Mass Challenge as a U.S.  “Vacation for a Cause” destination.

Full story here. 

Here’s an excerpt:  


Vacation for a cause: Go on a volunteer trip without leaving the U.S.

BY Tripp Whetsell

Sunday, June 7th 2009

Bikers cruise along New England byways in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, raising money for cancer research.
Vacation for a Cause. Go on a Volunteer Trip without Leaving the US

Before our own economy tanked, slinging sheetrock in some remote country for UNICEF might have seemed like the ideal vacation alternative for adventuresome travelers, those looking for a more fulfilling getaway than just lying on the beach with a copy of the latest Michael Connelly thriller.

Well, it still is.

You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars or trek halfway across the globe to get the same satisfaction, either, says travel expert Sheryl Kayne. Her new book, “Volunteer Vacations Across America,” lists more than 200 inexpensive opportunities, from restoring native plants on Catalina Island in California to working with pot-bellied pigs in Arizona.

“The biggest misconception about volunteer vacations is that they have to be very pricey, which isn’t always the case,” Kayne says.

“Particularly here in the U.S., there are trips that have little or no fees, plus portions of them can be tax deductible and you don’t need a sponsor.”

Not only does donating your time for a worthy cause reap huge personal rewards, you’ll also be helping to change other people’s lives. With the Northeast offering plenty of family-friendly volunteer destinations to choose from, all that’s needed to get on your way this summer is a tank of gas, some old jeans and a big heart.

Here are five nearby organizations where you can make a difference right now without draining your bank account:

Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, Needham, Mass.

This bike-athon held every August travels through 46 towns across Massachusetts, with more than 5,000 riders and 2,000 volunteers ages 15 to 83. Since it began in 1980, it has raised more than $24o million to fund cancer research and treatment for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.

There are seven routes for cyclists varying in time commitment and ability. Volunteer responsibilities include mapping routes, constructing food and water stops, providing medical attention and event safety. (781-449-5300;

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