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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