Sometimes people are part of the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge without actually participating in PMC weekend. Meet Virtual Rider Ellen Martyn of Brattleboro, Vermont.
Two years ago, Ellen Martyn rode her bike across the country with WomanTours, a women’s cycling organization that encourage bike riding for a cause. It was a goal of Ellen’s to bike cross country, and in the summer of 2008 she completed the 3,064 mile trip. For the 52-year-old kindergarten teacher in Vermont it was an extraordinary accomplishment.
Through this ride, Ellen was able to raise $13,000 to support the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the Brattleboro Music Center. WomanTours raises money for the National Coalition Breast Cancer Fund because the founder of WomanTours battled and survived breast cancer herself.
Unfortunately, less than a year after completing her cross-country tour, Ellen’s mother, Cynthia Fairchild, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ellen spent six months caring for her mother, until October 9, 2009 – on Ellen’s birthday – when her mother’s battle with cancer ended at the age of 75.
Ellen’s daughter, Emily Martyn, a women’s oncology grants administrator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, guided Ellen to the research that was being done by Dr. Jennifer Ligibel. Dr. Ligibel is a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with a clinical specialization in breast cancer and a research interest in the impact of lifestyle factors on cancer risk and outcomes.
Dr. Ligibel’s research on how exercise can help prevent breast cancer as well as its recurrence in breast cancer patients intrigued Ellen. She decided it was time to get back on her bike for the 2010 cross-country tour and ride in her mother’s memory.
Ellen, 54, will raise for money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a virtual rider of the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. The virtual rider program allows anyone, anywhere to be part of the PMC mission of fighting cancer and funding research.
Ellen will be traveling on the northern tier of the country where she’ll start half her cross country journey this June 2010 and complete the second half in July and August 2011. The first part of her ride will start in Anacortes, Washington on June 20, 2010 and end in Fargo, North Dakota on July 23, 2010, completing 1,609 miles. She’ll finish her ride in 2011 starting up again in Fargo, North Dakota, completing 2,430 miles and officially finishing the tour in Bar Harbor, Maine, for a total of 4,039 miles. WomanTours gives their riders the ability to fit their cross-country bike tour into their busy lives by splitting the ride in two separate trips.
Ellen’s ride will be in honor of her mother who was her number one supporter during her first cross-country ride. She will also be riding in hopes of sparing the lives of other women – herself included – from breast cancer, a disease that took the lives of many of the women in her family, including her mother, aunt, and maternal grandmother.
In addition to raising money for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, Ellen will also raise money for a local organization she supports, the Brattleboro Music Center. Donors can donate to either organization. Her fundraising goal for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is $10,000, which she hopes to reach by the end of her cross-country tour. She’ll blog about her journey here.