A veteran one-day rider to switch gears and pedal two days this year

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

A veteran one-day rider to switch gears and pedal two days this year

Meet Maria Maradianos

Last year, Maria Maradianos, 23, of Boston, rode for the first time in the Pan-Mass Challenge. The novice cyclist, who hadn’t ridden a bicycle since she was 12, pedaled the one-day 82-mile PMC route from Wellesley to Bourne. As an individual cyclist, she was quick to feel the camaraderie from other solo riders, teams and supporters along the route. When she crossed the finish line on day one of PMC weekend, she was sad she couldn’t continue. She wanted to do more to physically push herself and, more importantly, to help fund a cure for cancer.  

Maradianos was originally inspired to participate in the annual bike-a-thon by Leah Tepper, a teenage cancer patient whom she met four years ago when she worked as a street-teamer at WEEI, the official radio partner of the 2014 Pan-Mass Challenge. As part of her job, she was given the opportunity to assist twice with the WEEI/NESN annual Radio-Telethon benefitting the Jimmy Fund, a 36 hour event that features compelling stories from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patients, doctors, researchers and nurses, celebrity guests and athletes. Tepper was one of the teenagers who shared her story on air. 

In the spring of 2010, Tepper was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in the adrenal gland. As a high school student, she endured 14 surgeries, two 30-day radiation treatments, and four different chemotherapy regiments before ultimately losing her life to the disease. She was just 19-years-old.  

“I saw Leah both years I worked the Radio-Telethon and was in awe of her positive attitude and overall presence when she spoke of her cancer diagnosis and treatments,” says Maradianos. “When my co-worker told me that Leah only had a few months to live, I was in disbelief. She was my age, she didn’t have a choice as to whether or not she would get cancer, and yet, she had already accepted her fate and decided to make the best out of the time she had left.”  

Tepper’s story of courage and optimism throughout her treatments has profoundly changed Maradianos’ life. Since meeting the brave teen, she has adopted a healthier lifestyle and committed herself to raising funds and awareness for cancer research and treatments. Increasing the mileage she rides in the PMC is one way she will accomplish her mission. Last month, she hosted a dinner event called Plates for PMC at Pagliuca’s, a family friend’s restaurant in the North End of Boston, during which she was able to raise $3,600 for the cause. 

“Leah’s story will never leave me, she is the main reason I began to ride in and raise money for the PMC,” says Maradianos. “Her story is also my motivation to live a healthier lifestyle, shying away from many of the unhealthy foods and activities that people my age participate in. Now, I am more conscious of my body, others and the world around me.”   

On Aug. 2 and 3, Maradianos will be among more than 5,800 cyclists who will participate in the 35th annual event to raise $40 million to support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber through the Jimmy Fund. She will embark on the two-day 190-mile PMC route from Sturbridge to Provincetown and looks forward to meeting her mom and best friend at the official family finish.  

“Nowadays, it seems as if everyone is affected by cancer in some way,” says Maradianos. “Helping the PMC to fulfill its mission is one small way we can help adults and children conquer a disease that is global and has no boundaries with regard to gender, ethnicity or age. When I’m on a training ride and start doubting myself when struggling to pedal up a steep hill, I think of the miles cancer patients and their families have to overcome every day. There is no question; I will continue to participate in the PMC until I am no longer physically able to.”   

To register to ride in the 35th annual Pan-Mass Challenge, which is set for Aug. 2 and 3, or to support Maria Maradianos or another PMC cyclist, visit www.pmc.org

 

(photo credit: 13 Photography)

 

Maria Maradianos, 23, of Boston, a veteran one-day cyclist who will switch gears and push herself to ride a two-day route this year. 

Post courtesy of Allison at Teak Media + Communication