Morris Family to Host Inaugural Cape Ann PMC Kids Ride in Memory of Grampy

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Morris Family to Host Inaugural Cape Ann PMC Kids Ride in Memory of Grampy

In the fall of 2012, Pat Morris, 59, of Gloucester, Mass. with her husband, Russell's full support, decided to start training for her first Pan-Mass Challenge. They started the adventure with an old mountain bike they shared. Having been diagnosed years prior with toxoplasmosis, an infectious disease caused by a parasite typically transmitted through undercooked meat or soil, Russell often experienced blurred vision and fatigue. As the husband and wife duo began riding, Pat noticed her husband was more tired than usual and seemed hesitant to ride. She didn’t think much of it as they had just picked up cycling.  He vowed to purchase another bike and start again in the spring.  

By January 2013, Russell’s weight kept fluctuating. Assuming this was a symptom of his toxoplasmosis flaring up Pat took her husband to the doctor after which he started taking routine medications. Within 30 days, after collapsing during the blizzard Nemo, Russell was diagnosed with lung cancer. The news was shocking to the Morris family as his cancer symptoms mirrored the symptoms he often experienced from toxoplasmosis. Within three days of his diagnosis, he slipped in and out of a coma. He was treated at Boston Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he was given the best end of life care possible before ultimately losing his life to the disease in March at the age of 61. Pat never got the chance to say goodbye to her husband of 31 years. She was devastated.  

“When Russell passed, I was pretty much in a fog, but knew I needed to do something to honor him and channel my grief,” says Pat. “I kept looking at our old mountain bike in our garage and decided that was it! I would do the PMC in his memory. I finally broke down and bought a new road bike.”  

When Pat explained to her family that she would ride for the first time in the PMC this year in memory of Russell, her four grandchildren announced that they would like to do the same. Knowing that you have to be a certain age to cycle in the adult ride, Pat decided to start a PMC Kids Ride in town, providing her grandchildren with an outlet to honor “Grampy” through their own mini bike-a-thon.  

On Saturday, Sept. 13, the Morris family will host the inaugural Cape Ann PMC Kids Ride in Russell’s memory. More than 40 children, ages 2 to 15, are expected to participate, including three of Pat and Russell’s grandchildren, Alexis, 13, Samantha, 11, and Braeden, 6, who will ride under the umbrella Team Scrawney-Morgan, named for the team their grandmother rode with as part of the adult PMC. Their fourth grandchild, Jordan, 18, has assisted with planning and fundraising for the event but will not be on site as she will be starting her freshman year of college, adding to her scholarships by submitting a poem she wrote about her Grampy’s passing. 

Young cyclists will be able to ride one of three routes of varying mileage around O’Malley Middle School in Gloucester. There will be a party after the ride which will include fact painting, a kids raffle and many more fun family-oriented activities. The ride hopes to raise $5,000.  

“The PMC and PMC Kids Rides Program, have given my family an outlet to keep Russell’s memory alive and fresh in the hearts and minds of our friends and family members,” says Pat. “The kids are so excited to have an opportunity to ride and raise money as a tribute to Grampy and to help make a difference for cancer patients like him. Hopefully it also gives other kids who have had similar experiences an opportunity to be part of a great cause.” 

PMC Kids Rides are spokes in the PMC wheel, joining the more than 5,700 adult PMC cyclists in their mission to fund adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. Since its inception in 1998, the PMC Kids Rides program has raised more than $5.5 million. 

For more information about the PMC Kids Rides program, to start a ride in your area, or participate in an existing ride, visit www.kids.pmc.org or call Justine Darmanian at (781)449-5300 ext. 300. 

 

The inaugural Cape Ann PMC Kids Ride was started by the Morris family to honor their late Grampy, who is pictured fishing in Gloucester, Mass. In 2013, Russell lost his life to lung cancer, leaving behind his wife, son, daughter, and four grandchildren.