In 2010 I rode my 10th Pan-Mass Challenge charity ride, and celebrated by extending the PMC's 2-day route to a third day, riding 285 miles all the way across the state of Massachusetts. And I more than doubled the number of people who sponsored me.
After such an amazing 10th year, why ride an 11th? How many PMCs are too many? You might as well ask how many cancer deaths are too many.
This is my friend Ken. One of the reasons why I'm riding again is to honor his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which ended in December. Over the past six years, he went through six rounds of chemo, radiation, pneumonia, diabetes, countless transfusions, the removal of his spleen. Several heart attacks and an implanted defibrillator that fired automatically, as many as 17 times in one day. Then the kidney and heart failure that took his life at age 49.
I rode to honor Ken's fight in 2007 and 2008. In those and every PMC I've done since then, I've worn a rubber bracelet that he gave out as part of a fundraiser he did for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a healing lakeside program for children with cancer. And I'll be wearing it once again this year.
But like many cancer stories, this year's ride also has a positive side that's equally moving. In February the long-awaited Yawkey Center for Cancer Care opened: the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's first new clinical building since 1975.
If you had any question about how much your donations matter, consider this: the PMC's $183 million contribution was the lead gift in funding this state of the art cancer center.
The building's main entrance features a sculpture and plaza honoring the PMC. Describing the tree-shaded main entrance, the President of the Dana-Farber has said: "the building will be fronted by a beautiful PMC Plaza in recognition of all you and your fellow riders and supporters have done to help us".
Both the PMC Plaza and this amazing new Yawkey Center are the concrete, visible evidence of how much impact your donations have in the fight against cancer. But the important part is what goes on behind those doors, where tens of thousands of lives will be touched: not just this year, but for generations to come.