Closer by the mile……TeamBrentWheels 2011 PMC

It is hard to believe that two weeks have passed since the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) bike ride.  We had a fabulous time this year.  The 32nd annual PMC took place August 6 & 7, with most riders biking 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown.  Sixty-one members of TeamBrent (our cycling arm is known as TeamBrentWheels) proudly rode alongside over 5,000 other cyclists in the two day ride. The collective goal this year was to raise $34 million dollars for the Dana Farber cancer Institute (DFCI).  The money will be donated through the Institute’s Jimmy Fund, and used for lifesaving cancer research and care.

PMC is a model of fundraising efficiency; over the past few years they donated 100% of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause. That means exactly what it sounds like – if someone donates $40 towards our ride, all $40 goes exactly where it should be going – to life saving research to keep people from dying of cancer.  Every single cent.

We have so much fun riding.  The entire route is lined by people ringing cowbells, waving pom-poms, holding babies, playing drums and holding signs saying “thank you. I am here today because of YOU.”  Our 61 riders are supported by about a dozen members of the TeamBrentWheels road crew and every one of us has a blast.  It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm of our teammates.   On the first day of the PMC, all 5,000+ riders wear the same jersey, supplied by the PMC, to show that everyone is riding as one cohesive group, with a singular mission, to beat cancer.  In order to differentiate teammates, many riders wear something on their helmets.  TeamBrentWheels is represented by the lobster.  This is based on a chance meeting that young Brent had at the PMC finish line one year with a man we call, simply, Lobsterman.  On the second day, riders wear their team jerseys.  We are proud to be sponsored by vineyard vines, and enjoy wearing their jerseys on Sunday.  This year’s jerseys (both days) had the added bonus of being blue and orange – Brent’s favorite colors.  It made everything seem a bit brighter for us, somehow.  Check out our pictures taken by team photographer Ashley Skatoff (linked from this site's PMC page).  Have you ever seen such genuine smiles?

We heard a talk from a father whose son is currently undergoing treatment at Dana Farber reminding us to just "listen" as we ride.  When we hear people clapping, when we hear the cow bells, when we hear the wind blowing- to remember that those are all the sounds of people saying thank you for what we are doing.  This year we saw some unique sights on the ride – ranging from Lance Armstrong, who was riding in his first PMC…. to a father riding a tandem bike by himself.  The seat behind him was empty in honor of his son, lost to cancer.  We’re reminded of what’s important in life and how blessed we all are and reminded to embrace our family and loved ones today because you just never know what lays ahead. That the present is truly precious. It is our humble privilege to be able to participate in the PanMassChallenge. Cancer doesn't stand a chance – with each pedal, we are closer by the mile….to a cure.

Donations are still coming in, so final numbers are uncertain, but we are thrilled to report that this year’s team has raised well over $500,000.  Incredible.  This means that TeamBrentWheels has contributed over $2.4 million dollars to the PMC (which, combined with another $3 million dollars raised for the St. Baldricks foundation, means that TeamBrent-ers have raised over $5 million dollars to help fight childhood cancer). The money raised this year by TeamBrent is specifically targeted towards fighting Neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects children exclusively, at Dana-Farber and Boston Children’s Hospital. In previous years, the team’s funds have gone towards a new treatment room at Boston Children’s Hospital, allowing for MIBG radiotherapy for children with relapsed Neuroblastoma, and for participation in future trials. Dr. Lisa Diller, CMO and Clinical Director of Pediatric Oncology at the Institute and Children’s Hospital says, “We will be able to participate in these trials because we have a room – thanks to TeamBrent!”

We couldn’t do it without our riders, roadies, friends who volunteered to drive drivers up to Sturbridge, Nauti Dolphin pizza (who sponsors our kickoff party – you have never seen 30 pizzas devoured so quickly), Klaff’s (graciously donated an enormous truck to transport our bikes), vineyard vines, and of course – our donors.  We heard and saw the thank yous but they are meant for the donors and their generosity.  It is an absolute privilege to be a part of the PMC. 

Billy Starr, the founder of the PMC, writes that though the PMC covers hundreds of miles, the event is not about distance.  And though the PMC includes tens of thousands of cyclists, volunteers and sponsors, the event is not about numbers.  The PMC is about how far ordinary people will go to help others.  It is about how people from all walks of life come together for one weekend with the single goal of raising money for cancer care and research for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

We had a lot of fun and are looking forward to another great event next year!!

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