(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
The Pan Mass Challenge always makes me shed a tear or two, usually as I am driving from home (North Truro) to the store (Provincetown) on the Sunday morning that the Ride gets into town and the first riders are streaming down Route 6 toward the finish line. I'm not sure if it's because Nick and I did the California AIDS Ride many moons ago so I can totally relate to their mixture of exhaustion and elation as they come over the last hill to that always spectacular view of Provincetown and the bay; or if it's because they raise such an unimaginable amount of money in one event that you can't help being choked up at the difference each and every rider is making; or if it's because I'm so damn tired myself by the second Sunday in August that my composure (never very sturdy) is at it's lowest.
Probably a combination of all three.
But whatever the reason I always get caught off guard and find that lump in my throat that just appears as soon as I see the riders and remember what day it is.
Actually, it's pretty damn impressive what they do. According to their web site:
The Pan-Mass Challenge is an annual bike-a-thon and a pioneer of the athletic fund raising industry that today raises more money for charity than any other single event in the country. The organization was founded in 1980 and has since raised $303 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. The PMC is a model of fund raising efficiency. The PMC donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause. In 2010, the PMC generated 60 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue and it was Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor. Over 230,000 individual contributions were made to last year’s fund raising campaign. In 2011, PMC cyclists will ride with the goal of raising $34 million for Dana-Farber.
$34 million. Yes, you read it right, thirty four million dollars. That is an awful lot of money for one event. And it is equally impressive that 100% of every rider raised dollar goes directly to the Dana Farber Institute. (I assume that means that all expenses are covered through donations and sponsorship.) I used to work in fund raising; 100% is highly unusual.
And, as an added bonus, they have an awesome logo. Irrelevant, I know, but I just wanted to throw that out there.
And for those of you who don't know what the Jimmy Fund is, it is the fund raising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and has been raising money to fight cancer in both children and adults since 1948; though anecdotally I think people generally associate it with cancer in children because that is what the Jimmy Fund Clinic specializes in.
Check out it's website for a great article on who the original 'Jimmy' was. If the sight of around 5,000 cyclists (and lets not forget the 3,000 volunteers who support them) swarming all over Massachusettes this weekend doesn't warm the cockles of your heart then his story surely will.
So we look forward to welcoming the PMC to Provincetown this weekend. The organizers have asked local businesses if they would like to extend special offers to PMC participants so if you are a rider or volunteer stop by the store for a 10% discount on any purchase this Sunday.
Have a very safe and enjoyable ride, and don't mind me as I drive to work holding back the tears all the way.
Images from the Pan Mass Challenge web site.