Pan-Mass Challenge rides through Dighton in rainy weather – News – The Taunton Daily Gazette, Taunton, MA

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DIGHTON — The rain on Saturday was steady and at times torrential. But so evidently was the spirit of the thousands of bikers who rode in this year’s 39th annual Pan-Mass Challenge.

Many of those participating in the ride — which last year raised $51 million for patient care and medical research at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — stopped off for food, water, bike repairs and bathroom visits on the athletic field behind Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

Known officially as a “water stop,” the grassy field for years has been made available by school and town officials, affording riders who began their trek at dawn a place to replenish themselves before heading off to the Cape.

“They merge here for lunch,” said site coordinator Betsey Duffy, who a year ago was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

“I’m a Living Proof survivor,” the 53-year-old mother of three said — referring to the term coined by the non-profit Pan-Mass Challenge, describing someone taking part in the event who either is a cancer survivor or a current patient.

Duffy, who lives in Vermont, says she’s been a volunteer at the Dighton-Rehoboth school site for 15 years.

She also said she has 21 years’ experience working in the food industry, which comes in handy when being responsible for coordinating the efforts of 175 volunteers.

Under the canopy of large tent, riders could grab peanut butter and jelly or meat sandwiches, fruit, cookies, brownies and other satisfying snacks.

 

A number of vendors, including Gordon Food Service, provide food and beverages each year.

The Needham-based Pan-Mass Challenge, PMC for short, says it has raised nearly $600 million since its founder Billy Starr began the organization in 1980, after his mother Betty died at the age of 49.

During its two-day run each summer, PMC offers 12 bike routes varying in length and difficulty — the most strenuous of which is the single-day Sturbridge to Bourne run, which consists of 50 “quite hilly” miles followed by 60 miles of “rolling hills and flats.”

The longest stretch is 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown.

That route takes two days. Riders on Saturday bike 111 miles to Bourne, where they spend the night at Massachusetts Maritime Academy before continuing another 27 miles on Sunday to Provincetown.

In order to qualify as a participant, each cyclist on a team must raise between $600 and $8,000 depending on the chosen route. PMC says the average cyclist manages to raise an average of $7,000.

Andrew Pappas, of Boston, who said this weekend’s PMC was the first for him and the 76 other members of Team Crus11Tour. They chose the 192-mile route.

The 11, Pappas said, represents the number his late friend Davey Hovey wore when he was lacrosse team captain at St. Lawrence University.

Hovey was 25 when he died a year and a half ago from brain cancer, following a series of surgeries, seizures and treatments.

Pappas, 27, said he and Hovey had known each other since they were young boys growing up in Connecticut.

The inclusion of the number 11 as a substitute for letter h, he said, is meant to represent the word crush. Pappas said Hovey had every intention of trying to crush and defeat cancer.

Before he died, Hovey organized a golf tournament in 2016 that raised $133,000 for research into a cure for glioblastoma. Friends of his also raised $300,000 by running the 2017 Boston Marathon.

His former doctor at Dana-Farber, Dr. David Reardon, along with his medical team, is credited by Team Crus11Tour for his brain cancer, research work.

“This is just a great event, and we want to do it for many years to come,” Pappas said. “We want to keep Davey’s dream alive to find a cure and help others.”

Pappas said team members include his brother and father as well as Hovey’s father and brother.

Pappas said that although a handful of team members have run in marathons, most members had no experience riding long distances.

He said the main challenge of the rain was dealing with water going into his eyes. The benefit of the wet weather, he said, was that it had a cooling effect.

Volunteer Sheila Sharad could be seen navigating puddles under the tent.

“I usually cut up the food,” she said.

Sharad, 87, said she’s been driving in from her home in Stoughton for 23 years to be a PMC volunteer at the school.

Her husband, she said, died 37 years ago of colon cancer.

“He would probably be alive today,” she said, if he had had access to treatments and therapies that have since been developed at Dana-Farber.

Made it to the Dighton-Rehoboth lunch before the rain hit! Pictured here: vols at the medical tent sponsored by @Cigna • @BSPT1 helping riders relieve sore muscles • Riders enjoying lunch provided by @GFSDelivers • PMC’s Billy Starr with his riding group • #PanMass2018 pic.twitter.com/B861u2iSO6

— Pan-Mass Challenge (@PanMass) August 4, 2018

PMC says it donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar to Dana-Farber through its Jimmy Fund fundraising arm.

PMC, it says, is Dana-Farber’s largest single donor.

Among the thousands of bike riders who participated this past weekend were three women and four men from Taunton.

PMC has a year-round staff of one part-time and nine full-time workers. It says it raises more money for charity than any other single, athletic fundraising event in the world.

More than 6,300 riders from at least 40 states and 10 countries came to Massachusetts to take part in this year’s event, according to PMC.





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