Retired Cyclist Overcomes Challenges to Help Cancer Patients

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Retired Cyclist Overcomes Challenges to Help Cancer Patients

Last year, Stuart Schwartz, 52, of Trumbull, Conn., a self-proclaimed retired PMC cyclist, was inspired to get back on his bicycle for the annual bike-a-thon by a friend, Sylvie Poulin, who was battling cancer. Initially, his plan was to ride in honor of Poulin and in memory of his late mother, Cookie, and close friend, Jeff Blueweiss, who lost their lives to the disease. Tragically, on Aug. 1, just two days before PMC weekend, Poulin also succumbed to the disease. 

In addition to grieving the loss of loved ones, Schwartz faced numerous physical obstacles. During his thirteen year hiatus from the PMC, he battled Lyme disease three times, had both hips replaced, and underwent back surgery. Despite these challenges, Schwartz was determined to ride and raise money for the annual bike-a-thon.  

“These obstacles were relatively easy to overcome compared to what cancer patients deal with on a daily basis,” says Schwartz.  “The courage and strength exhibited by my mother and friends when they battled cancer is what motivates me to continue to spin my wheels for the cause.” 

This year, Schwartz will ride alongside his daughter, Stephanie, 20, in what will be his fourth and her second PMC experience. In addition, his friend, Joan Barry Walsh, will ride with them for the second consecutive year in memory of her sisters. Together they will embark on the two-day 190-mile PMC route from Sturbridge to Provincetown. Schwartz has already reached his fundraising minimum by sending emails to his contacts and posting to his Facebook page. The father-daughter duo hopes to raise a combined total of $15,000 for the cause.  

“My favorite part of riding in the PMC is having my daughter by my side,” says Schwartz. “We’ve created memories that have strengthened our bond. Riding in the PMC has also inspired Stephanie to join the Boston College cycling team, which makes me incredibly proud.” 

To register to ride in the 35th annual Pan-Mass Challenge, which is set for Aug. 2 and 3, or to support Stuart and Stephanie Schwartz or another PMC cyclist, visit


From left to right: PMC veteran Stuart Schwartz and his daughter, Stephanie, during their 2013 PMC ride. 

Post courtesy of Allison at Teak Media + Communication