Indiana man finds inspiration to fundraise along the PMC route

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Indiana man finds inspiration to fundraise along the PMC route

For most marathoner runners, the onset of severe hip osteoarthritis would declare the end of their participation in athletic fundraising events. For Tony Brake, 49, of Evansville, Indiana, his diagnosis in September 2011 was the end of one chapter and beginning of another. 

For the past three consecutive years, Brake has raised money to support cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through his participation in the Boston Marathon as a member of team Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. He has since switched gears from running to cycling and this August participated in his first Pan-Mass Challenge. 

Brake’s inspiration to raise money for cancer research and treatment comes from a running list of family members and friends who have been affected by this all-too-often deadly disease.  His mother, brother, aunt and cousin are all cancer survivors.  His late father-in-law succumbed to brain cancer in 2008.  The nephew of a friend is a two-time cancer survivor at the young age of 7 and remains an inspiration to those around him.  

On August 3 and 4, Brake rode the two-day 190-mile PMC route from Sturbridge to Provincetown. Being from Indiana, Brake knew few people along the route and was pleased when he crossed paths with Jack Fultz, a training advisor for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team.  

“Jack has faced similar challenges as I have,” says Brake. “He has been very helpful in providing me with hope, encouragement and inspiration as I plan to continue my fundraising efforts through the PMC.” 

As the sole rider for “Team SamStrong,” Brake’s goal was to raise at least $5,000 for the cause and he has surpassed that – an impressive feat for a rider hailing from Indiana where the PMC and Dana-Farber are less well-known in his community. And he’s not stopping there. Brake has his eye on reaching Heavy Hitter status, a rider who raises $6,700 or more. 

Brake will continue his fundraising efforts through social media outreach, placing posters throughout his community and sending emails and letters to those who have supported him in the past and to those who may be less aware of his dedication to the PMC and its mission. Although Brake is no longer able to run, he is thankful to have cycling and the PMC as a means to continue his commitment to raising vital funds for the cancer fighting community. 

In addition to riding in memory or honor of his family members and friends affected by cancer, this year he paid special tribute to Sam Featherstone, a heroic local youth who, during his final weeks battling brain cancer, raised more than $200,000 for pediatric brain cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

In recognition of Sam’s courageous fight against cancer and selfless dedication toward furthering the field of cancer research, Brake has committed to matching 25 cents per dollar on the first $8,000 contributed toward his PMC fundraising campaign and will donate those funds to St. Jude.  

Donations to the PMC will be accepted until Oct. 1.

From left to right: PMC cyclists Jack Fultz and Tony Brake together after completing their PMC ride at the Provincetown Inn.

Post courtesy of Teak Media + Communication