Dot cyclists train for summer’s Pan Mass Challenge

Jeanette Origel, Special to the Reporter
May. 22, 2014

Fifteen Dorchester cyclists will be among the 5,500 cyclists who’ll pedal in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) this summer. The two-day event (Aug. 2 and 3) raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country and accounts for half of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue. Over the past 34 years, PMC cyclists have contributed $414 million to cancer research.

The Dot cyclists riding this year are: Shawn Burgess, Mike Christopher, Maura Dacey, Kevin Dowd, Ernest Edwards, Ryan Flaherty, Patricia Fraser, Edward Guerard, Colleen Higgins, Daniel Holland, Anthony Magliozzi, Thomas Monaghan, Trish Powers, Hillary Smith and Joe Tack.

Colleen Higgins, has been fundraising with TRO Jung Brannen, an architectural firm, for the past two years. This year she has decided to take on the challenge and ride herself.

“I’m really happy to represent my office and be even closer to the cause,” said Higgins, 29, of the Polish Triangle. Higgins will be riding in honor of her two grandfathers, Jim and John, who have fought lymphoma, kidney and prostate cancer. Her team has also been paired with a Pedal Partner, three-year-old Eliana Montas of Clinton who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Maura Dacey of Minot Street, an Oncology Nurse at Dana Farber, lost her brother to Neuroblastoma when he was just two years old. Her father died from Renal Cell Cancer in 2008. Dacey is determined to ride for a cause on her brother’s 25th Anniversary of his passing. It will be her third year riding in the event.

“The crowd, the people that come out and support you and cheer you on the whole time is such inspiration,” said Dacey.

Lower Mills resident Kevin Dowd has been taking on the challenge for 21 years now. Dowd, now 50, was working for Fallon Ambulance when he was asked by someone from management to ride in the PMC. Now, over two decades later, he rides in honor of a friend’s daughter.

“I got more out of it than I could put into it,” Dowd says, “At times it can be melancholy but it’s a celebration more than anything else.”
Team Kevin Fitz member Mike Christopher rides to honor the memory of former Mission Hill State Representative Kevin FitzGerald, who lost his battle in 2007. Christopher has been with the team since it was first formed by a group of friends and family. “The first year we had 12 young guys who never really rode bikes before, but we got together and did it,” Christopher says. “It was an amazing experience for a great cause and this our 7th year, now with about 20 people."

Life-long Savin Hill resident Trish Powers has been a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for 22 years. She signed up for her first PMC ride after losing her father Elliot Powers, a U.S Navy Veteran, in December 2012. Experiencing a cancer diagnosis from the family’s side rather than a nurse’s, has made Powers, 51, a better nurse.

If it weren’t for Dana Farber research dollars, Powers says, “My father wouldn’t have had treatment and we would have lost him three years prior.”

For 45-year old Joe Tack, riding bikes is something he constantly does. Whether it is to commute to work or on a 100-mile ride with friends, Tack enjoys bike riding. When a couple of his friends began riding the PMC he decided to join them and help a great cause. Tack’s mother, who lost her battle to cancer a couple of years ago, was part of his motivation for joining PMC.

The PMC helps Dana Farber and it gives them a lot of money to be able to do a lot of good, but Tack says, “The thing that is irreplaceable is when you’re riding along the routes during the weekend of the PMC and you see people on the side of the road with signs that say things like ‘I’m alive today thanks to you.’ You really see first hand where that money is going and how much you’re appreciated.”

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