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 2008. 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.
30 years in 30 weeks
The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge celebrated 2008 with riders who took the event across the nation and the globe.
Brothers Justin and Jamie Merolla kicked off their PMC by dipping their tires in the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco on route to Provincetown. And a group of dedicated PMCers and cyclists made their own journey to fight cancer that started with a dip in the Adriatic Sea, raising $70,000 in the first PMC Italy.
But the biggest story was back in Massachusetts, where the PMC kicked off 29 years with its largest group of riders and volunteers ever and a whopping $35 million donation to the Jimmy Fund.
Over the years, PMC staff has heard from veterans about how the event lacked the intimacy of its earlier years, even as they were proud of the large sum of money they were able to raise for Dana-Farber as a larger team. Founder Billy Starr says this about the PMC growth:
“Believe me, I understand how these folks feel, yet it is critical to our mission that we grow… The PMC has evolved from a modest undertaking into a shining showcase for cancer research, advocacy and funding prowess.”
A big reason for growth over the years: PMC alumni. The PMC enjoys a 70 percent retention rate and the typical alumnus has been riding for seven years.
Rider loyalty and advocacy allowed the PMC to more than double its donation to the Jimmy fund from $15 million in 2002 to $35 million in 2008.
People come back to the PMC every year because they know it makes a difference and has created change in the world of cancer research and treatment.
“The PMC is a crusade and it shares a heritage with historic events that have changed our country’s policies and perceptions,” Starr told riders in 2008. “In America, when we want change, along with voting, we stand up and move. As PMCers, that is what we do. But in addition to our advocacy, the money we raise provides the very foundation for improving quality of life. The PMC is the wheels of progress turning,” Starr said in his address to PMCers during the 2008 opening ceremonies.
The 29th ride was also personally significant for the PMC founder.
“I find symmetry in noting that this was our 29th ride, which happens to also have been my age on the occasion of that first PMC back in 1980,” Starr said. “So, the PMC has been in my life for exactly half of it. In that inaugural ride, I managed to get all 36 riders lost. Thank you all for sticking with the PMC and our dream, while I learned to get this ride right.”
PMC 2008 Facts
$35 million raised