Pan-Mass boosts donations by $2m

The Boston Globe

By Melissa Hanson |  Globe Correspondent  

  November 03, 2013

The annual Pan-Mass Challenge raised $2 million more than last year during August’s two-day bike ride to benefit cancer research and patient care, according to the event’s founder.

Billy Starr, the creator of PMC, was scheduled to join the president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Edward Benz, along with donors and friends at the Legal Harborside in the Seaport District Sunday to announce that $39 million was raised this year. Last year the event raised $37 million.

People ride and donate every year because cancer is a cause everyone can resonate with, Starr said, and because PMC is one of the few organizations that donate 100 percent of their funds to charity.

“I think [the riders] see themselves as a cog in the wheel,” said Starr, who created the event after his mother, uncle, and cousin had died of cancer.

Starr turned a personal love of cycling into a huge fund-raising event, beginning in 1980, that now attracts more than 5,000 riders.

The millions raised by PMC will account for 50 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue this year and 25 percent of Dana-Farber’s revenue, Starr said.

David Fialkow, the president and CEO of General Catalyst, a Cambridge venture capital firm, who has ridden in the Challenge for 28 years, said the event draws cyclists of all generations, some of whom ride competitively, while others go at a leisurely pace and just enjoy the ride.

Either way, Fialkow said, the impact of the funds they raise is visible.

“The goal has always been: How do you raise the most money while keeping it fun and safe,” he said.

Todd Langton, chairman of the PMC board, said volunteers are crucial to the ride’s success, as is help from sponsors in paying expenses.

Langton, a 24-year veteran of the Challenge, said that over the years, he has seen the passion that keeps the money coming in.

“People just give to the cause,” he said.

Although many donations are small, he said, they add up quickly.

Both Langton and Fialkow also credited use of social media as a major factor in the PMC’s success.

“I think there’s so much innovation,” said Langton.