Why I PMC - A Thank You Note To The Pan-Mass Challenge by Gigi Eliopoulos

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Bill Alfano

Why I PMC - A Thank You Note To The Pan-Mass Challenge by Gigi Eliopoulos

Why I PMC guest blog - "A Thank You Note To The Pan-Mass Challenge; The Event That Changed My Life" by Gigi Eliopoulos

Original blog and photos can be found at The Odyssey Online 

This is a thank you note to all those involved in the Pan-Mass Challenge: from the Starr family to the riders, to the volunteers and to the cheerleaders. You are changing lives. You changed mine.

For the past 15 summers, my family has counted down to one weekend: the first weekend of August. The best weekend of the year. The Pan-Mass Challenge. For those who do not know about the Pan-Mass Challenge, it is a bike ride across Massachusetts that raises money through the Jimmy Fund for Dana-Farber.

In 2001, my dad was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and he was treated through Dana-Farber. This diagnosis changed his life, He beat cancer and he believed that it was his turn to give back. After all, what is the point of life if not to make it better for someone else?

One of his friends had been riding in the PMC, so my dad and three of his buddies began to train for the ride. The next year more of his friends wanted to join in and ride.

Fast forward to 15 years later, we are still involved in the PMC. The four riders from Nashua who rode that first year has grown to over 40 and we now have our own team, Nashua Rides For Hope. Our team which was led by my dad, Andy Eliopoulos, until he passed away this summer while training for the ride, has raised over 1.6 million dollars towards cancer research.

 

The first weekend of August is still and will always be my favorite weekend of the year. Every Summer I find myself counting down to it, even though with it comes the end of Summer vacation. Now the weekend has a little more meaning to my family and friends. It is no longer just a weekend of raising money to help others but now serves as a remembrance and testament to my father. A man who gave everything he has to this organization and the extinction of cancer, the countless hours logged on the bike, donations, meeting with our pedal partners. This was his weekend. What got him through his hectic work and travel schedule. The weekend where he rode his bike alongside his best friends and made a difference. 

To say that the Pan-Mass Challenge is simply a bike ride that raises money to help cure cancer would be false. It is so much more. It brings people together and truly teaches you how beautiful life is and what the true meaning of life is. To help others. The Pan-Mass Challenge taught me that there is no point of living unless you are making this world a better place for someone else.

So hop on a bike, grab a volunteer t-shirt or a couple pom poms and I'll see you the first weekend of August.

For more information about the Pan-Mass Challenge and how you can be a part of it, go to their website: http://www.pmc.org/

In remembrance of a true inspiration and hero: Andy Eliopoulos