My journey with the PMC started on PMC weekend in 2007. I didn’t know much about the PMC, but that weekend was my 30th high school reunion in Michigan. Most of our class of 80 was in attendance, but there was one notable absence. One of our classmates (nicknamed Wonder) was nearing the end of his 6 month battle with brain cancer and couldn’t make the drive. Monday after the reunion, I joined 5 close friends/teammates to make the trip to say goodbye to him. It is a day I will never forget. We all knew why we were there, including him, but we spent our 45 minutes telling old and new stories. Three weeks after we hugged him and told him we loved him on our way out of his house, he passed away. I went back for his memorial service and as I left I committed to myself that I would ride the PMC in his honor and memory. I had no idea what I was doing or how important the PMC would be to me.
That first year, 2008, I PMC’d for Wonder, my mother, and two colleagues – all lost to cancer. I rode the first day with their initials pinned to my jersey and the second day with my friend’s old basketball jersey loaned to me by the high school athletic director. I had never met the AD and he knew nothing about Wonder, but his wife was a cancer survivor so he wanted to support my ride. There are a lot of memories from the first ride, but the most vivid is finishing in Provincetown, saluting Wonder and realizing I would ride the PMC as long as my legs would hold out.
The next year I pinned ribbons on my jersey with names from my life and my sponsors’ lives. Each year there have been more ribbons – more reasons to PMC. I also ride with pictures on my handlebars of Wonder and 3 more of our very close high school friends who were all lost much too early. I PMC to honor and remember them because I have learned from the PMC that keeping memories alive matters. Each year I share my ride with my classmates back in Michigan. Many join me for a virtual toast to our lost friends as I stand by the canal in Bourne at 7:00 on Saturday night. I ride because I love riding, I PMC because for 2 days I get to do what I love while paying tribute to people I love. I also PMC because I have learned about life from people I have met during the rides – like the man riding solo on a tandem who pointed to the picture of his wife on his back when asked where his partner was. Finally, I PMC because the spectators and volunteers are a source of hope and inspiration, unlike anything you can find anywhere else. I PMC because once you start, you can’t stop. I PMC because it is an honor to be part of something that brings thousands of people together for 2 days to share hope, respect, kindness, and goodwill.