Why I PMC - The Harring Family

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Bill Alfano

Why I PMC - The Harring Family

Guest Blog by Vaughn Harring

We had always been aware of the PMC and had contributed to riders in the past.  We even attended a wedding of a close couple who got engaged at the end of a PMC ride.  But in 2003, we had 3 kids ages 6, 3 and 1, so the idea of actually riding was put on the back burner.  We always talked about doing it “later” when the kids got older etc.  While we were both bikers—Vaughn got a nice Cannondale road bike as a wedding present—we were not really serious riders and a long ride might have been 20 miles and included bike seats on both road bikes.  

That all changed in February 2003, when Heidi’s mother, Jill, was diagnosed with Leukemia. During one of Heidi’s daily visits to see her mother at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Brigham and Women’s unit), she was trekking back to her car and the walk took her under the PMC Bridge and she was struck by an idea.  She pulled out her phone and called her husband Vaughn saying “We’re going to ride the PMC.”  Sadly, her mother died six weeks before the 2003 PMC ride.  It was a long ride and the first time either of us had ridden more than 100 miles, but we made it.  Seeing Jill’s Dana Farber oncologist at the lunch stop was a tearful visit, but we were moved by the experience and knew we needed to ride again.  

In 2004, Vaughn too lost his mother to cancer.  In November of that year Heidi was diagnosed with cancer but still rode the PMC 8 months later in 2005 having had two surgeries and chemo in the ensuing months and the last of her radiation treatments the day before and the Monday after that year’s ride. In 2005, Vaughn’s sister joined the ride, and several years later when she was married, her husband joined us.  Most recently in 2013 Heidi’s older brother, John went through cancer treatments but he too rode just months later.  Siblings, spouses and children now make up the extended family of riders.  Heidi’s two brothers John and Fritz, and three of John’s four children are all riders.  Half of the group rides with Team Lick Cancer and the other half with Team Boston Bruins. Vaughn and Heidi’s kids have been volunteers at both PMC Kids Rides and at MMA in Bourne until they were old enough to ride. Vaughn and Heidi’s daughter Reilly, sang the National Anthem at the Sturbridge Start in 2012, and at Fenway Park on PMC Day at Fenway in 2013.  The ride and preparation for it, is a family affair of grandparents and spouses taking care of dogs, picking up riders on Sunday in Boston and providing support for the training rides leading up to the event.  We ride for the mothers/grandmothers as well as the litany of friends we have lost and those fighting this disease.  A picture tells a thousand words. Our PMC Family Tree is below.