On August 4 and 5, 26 riders from Jamaica Plain will cycle up to 192 miles in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) with the goal of topping last year’s record-breaking gift and raising $52 million for critical cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
All funds raised from the PMC are donated directly to Dana-Farber through its fundraising arm, the Jimmy Fund, and is the institute’s largest single contributor, raising more than 53 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue. In 2017, the PMC gave a record gift of $51 million to Dana-Farber, bringing it’s 38-year contribution to a total of more than $598 million since its inception in 1980.
Susan Cibulsky, a Jamaica Plain resident, will be riding her ninth PMC this year. She started when her mother was a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“[My mother] received wonderful care there,” Cibulsky said. “My whole family felt cared for and that my mother received the best possible treatment. My mother passed away just a few weeks after my first PMC. But in a way she experienced the entire process with me, except for actually being on the bike, and was extremely touched and grateful. That was very rewarding to me, for her to see what the PMC is about and its impact.”
Cibulsky said she has always loved riding her bike and never stopped riding since she was a kid, but the PMC “took her to a different level.”
“I was fortunate to be part of a small team my first year which was well organized by a personal trainer and strong cyclist. We rode together every Sunday from May to August and learned how to train for a long distance event including proper nutrition. The PMC event itself is a poignant experience – exhausting, exhilarating, sad, hopeful, humbling. It hooks most riders in.”
While training for her first year Cibulsky wasn’t sure if she would become a repeat rider, but after the event she was committed. This year she is riding with an existing PMC team, Forza-G.
“[Forza-G] are a warm, welcoming, fun bunch of people each participating for their unique reasons but strongly bound together through the PMC,” Cibulsky said.
For training, Cibulsky usually starts her rides right from her house in JP and goes either toward Weston, Lincoln and Concord or into Dover, Medfield, and Sherborn.
“I love not having to drive somewhere to ride and these areas are terrific for cycling,” Cibulsky said. “Cyclist accessibility in JP, Boston, and surrounding areas keeps improving and I see more cyclists on the road – positive developments.”
The PMC offers 12 different routes, varying in mileage and difficulty, that pass through 46 towns across Massachusetts, with starting lines in Sturbridge, Wellesley, and Bourne. Cyclists are required to raise between $600 and $8,000, depending on the chosen route, though the average cyclist raises more than $7,000.
Cibulsky will take the classic PMC route, which goes from Sturbridge to Provincetown in two days. At print date, she has raised $7,578 towards her goal of $9,000. Anyone who would like to donate to Cibulsky’s fundraising can do so online at her PMC webpage http://profile.pmc.org/SC0249 or by sending a check, made out to “Pan-Mass Challenge”, to her at: Susan Cibulsky, 41 Rossmore Road #3, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.
Tyler Steffey, a long-term JP resident who has recently moved to the suburbs, is also riding his 7th PMC this year in honor of his parents. His father-in-law passed away eight years ago after a nine month cancer battle. Two years later, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and endured 14 months of chemo and radiology.
“Both [my mother and my father-in-law] were lucky enough to be treated at the Dana Farber Cancer Center,” Steffey said. “My mother passed away suddenly almost two years ago to the day from a cardiac event that may have been related to her previous battle with cancer. She always spoke so highly of the nurses at Dana Farber. Of course, the doctors were incredible as well – but her weekly treatments, the majority of which were with her nurse’s, made the biggest impression on her. The way I see it is in order to ensure a more cancer-free world for my children, our children, and the generations following, we need to do something. This is my humble effort in this battle.”
Steffey says that he’s completed many different charity events, but that the PMC is much different from any other event, most importantly because every single penny donated goes directly to the Dana Farber Cancer Center.
“That means that every police officer, every water cup holder, our night’s stay at the Mass Maritime Academy, and that cold Harpoon in P-town after mile 192 is entirely volunteerism,” Steffey said. “THAT is inspiring.”
Steffey said that the ride is also a somber reminder of how omnipresent the impact of cancer really is.
“[Cancer] is everywhere and it is a sickness that shows no prejudice, no boundary, and sometimes little hope,” Steffey said. “This ride is a painful therapy that dually breaks me down and builds me up.”
Steffey also trains in the Dover and Concord area. He also trains on what he calls the “G to G,” which is a one mile hill from a street grate at the bottom of Perkins and Goddard to a grate at the top of Larz Anderson Park.
“I am always appreciative of the bike lanes and street markings in JP,” Steffey said. “I find it inspiring that organizations like the MA Bicycle Coalition keep the conversation going in the Commonwealth. Truth is, save for a few cities in the US, we cyclists have it pretty good.”
Steffey also expressed pride for JP’s values and residents sense of duty to their community. “Every day I see people working to make JP a better place, while asking for nothing in return,” Steffey said. “Those people, you people, we people, know it helps and, while you may not see the direct impact of your community-minded efforts, you know contribute to a improved community. I don’t know any of the doctors who work tirelessly in labs trying to find a cure for cancer. I do know, however, that we have raised almost $50,000.00 in support an illness that has impacted people, impacted families in every country on every continent in the world, and I will not stop.”
To date, after seven years of fundraising, Steffey has raised $47,919. To support Steffey’s cause, donate through his rider page at http://profile.pmc.org/TS0232, or by volunteering for the event.
Over 6,200 cyclists from across the United States and the world will gather in Massachusetts to participate in the PMC. Riders include everyone from seasoned triathletes to weekend warriors and range in age from 15 to 84. Many ride to honor a family member or friend lost to, or being treated for cancer, and more than 850 riders and volunteers are cancer survivors or current patients themselves.
“After surpassing our goal and raising $51 million for Dana-Farber last year, we are excited to keep the momentum going as we approach our 39th PMC ride weekend,” said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC. “We are continuously humbled by the dedication and generosity of our riders, volunteers, donors, sponsors and community members – it’s thanks to them that the PMC is able to make such an immense impact on the fight against cancer. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable ride weekend and can’t wait to see you all out on the road.”
The PMC is presented by the Red Sox Foundation and New Balance. To make a financial contribution to a rider, pmc.org, or call (800) WE-CYCLE.
The following lists the participants from Jamaica Plain: Donna Berry, Carson Biederman; David C; Alan Chebot; Susan Cibulsky; Jennifer Crombie; Steven Fish; David Fisher; Elise Ford; Jennifer Fulton; Will Fulton; John Hanifin; Nancy Nee Hanifin; Mark Hershey; Alison Lord; Jacob Matthews; Bart Mitchell; Patricia Nutting; Chuck Pratt; Mary Poyner Reed; Nicholas Richards; Melissa Schrock; Tyler Steffey; Daniel Valachovic; Elizabeth Walker; Linda Weiner.