#WhyIPMC guest blog written by Melissa Earls (10+ year volunteer and Sturbridge Kids Ride Coordinator) for Emma Earls
Emma's PMC Volunteer Story:
Emma never met her grandfather. He passed away from pancreatic cancer several years before she was born. When Emma was a toddler our family attended a local fundraiser held to benefit cancer research. Emma made a Christmas ornament and wrote, "I miss you, Grandpa" on the back. Emma is now 16, and I still hang that ornament each holiday season - with a mixture of deep sadness and enormous pride.
Emma's uncles have ridden in the "Big PMC" for years. We live in Sturbridge, where it is difficult not to know the PMC is in town. Emma was very used to getting up in the middle of the night to take one or both uncles to the Sturbridge Host for the start of the ride, and to meet me as I volunteered for a shift or two. Soon, she was eager to participate in our local Kids Ride, which was enjoying its inaugural event in 2012. Emma was a "Heavy Hitter" from the start, and earned "Breakaway Fundraiser" status the first two years it was offered. She still displays her certificates and shows off her backpacks. When she was too old to ride herself, she volunteered to assist us in coordinating the Sturbridge Kids Ride. Last year, Emma was finally old enough to join the teen and adult volunteers at the Big Ride. She was all energy and smiles as she worked in the apparel store at the Host on Friday. This year, she watched her email vigilantly and waited for Alumni Volunteer Registration to open. She was eager to sign up for a spot on the coveted Rider Registration crew, with her mom and friends. She was thrilled to learn she responded to the email in time, and will be at Rider Reg in Sturbridge this August.
For our family, the PMC is family, and PMC Weekend is a holiday. Emma is an amazing young person and she makes us proud every single day - but when I watch her volunteer for a PMC event, the incredible love I have for her simply overflows. I know that my Dad is with us in those moments, and this is one way I can be sure Emma's connection to him is real and meaningful.
Note: Emma Earls is a junior at Deerfield Academy in Western Massachusetts. She enjoys theater and serving as a senior editor with the Deerfield Scroll campus newspaper. She has been involved with the PMC as a rider and volunteer for 7 years.