Team Riverside Rockets is a unique group of 26 cyclists, ages 20 to 70, who do not let a 50 year age gap and varying cycling abilities stop them from banning together to make an impact in the fight against cancer.
As a high school sophomore, Ashley Cunningham’s focus went from surviving the academic and social qualms that come with being a teenager to undergoing one year of multiple spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations and chemotherapy treatments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, more than 400 Pan-Mass Challenge cyclists, volunteers, and supporters came together as the Boston Celtics paid tribute to the PMC for its incredible fundraising efforts on behalf of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund during the team’s inaugural PMC Night at the TD Garden.
Ten years ago, two-time PMC cyclist Charlie Hamilton rode across the U.S., and through parts of Canada, to raise money for the Pan-Mass Challenge. He turned his self-proclaimed mid-life crisis into a fundraising vehicle for the Jimmy Fund while fulfilling two life-long dreams: to ride his bicycle cross country and to see a baseball game in every Major League Baseball stadium.
A quarter of a century is how long Bill Snapper, 53, of Holliston, Mass. has been riding in and raising money for the Pan-Mass Challenge. He first achieved Heavy Hitter status in 1998 and has since continued to be a top fundraiser for the annual bike-a-thon, to date raising nearly $163,900 for the cause.
Thank you for making the 34th annual Pan-Mass Challenge the most successful PMC yet. In 2013, more than 5,500 cyclists representing 38 states and five countries rode one of 11 routes over one or two days through 46 towns and cities in Massachusetts.
Sarah Couture, 14, is a 2013 PMC Pedal Partner and a cancer survivor who has grown-up living, breathing and playing soccer. When she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2012 and began treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, it was no surprise that a black and white soccer ball helped to pull her through her cancer experience.
Madeleine Smith, 19, of Wellesley is an example of someone who has truly grown up with the Pan-Mass Challenge. She started the Wellesley-Weston Kids Ride in 2006 when she was 11 years old with the help of her parents who are PMC veterans.
On May 19 at Fenway Park, 70 Pedal Partners and the PMC cyclists who will ride in their honor met for the first time and together enjoyed a casual breakfast. Jenny the Juggler performed for the guests, and families and cyclists created posters that will adorn the PMC route. Bonds were formed and it will be exciting to watch how the friendships develop over the coming months and years.