Pan-Mass Challenge Helps Make Miracles Happen Every Day for Cancer Patients and Families

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Pan-Mass Challenge Helps Make Miracles Happen Every Day for Cancer Patients and Families It's been a couple of months since we last communicated, and while I'll weigh in with opinions on Dennis Wideman, Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin and other Bruins offseason developments soon (first impression: so far, so good), I'm asking for your help at this writing.

I think I can do the biking — I have been cranking out 200-mile weeks for a while now — but I'm asking you to give a buck. Or two, or five. Or more, if you feel, if you can afford it. I'm riding in the Pan Mass Challenge with the Boston Bruins Foundation team on August 7 and 8, and it would be awesome to bring dozens of NESN.com readers along in spirit. The weekend event will include 111 miles from Sturbridge to Bourne on Saturday and 81 miles from Bourne to Provincetown on Sunday.

This brainchild of PMC founder and executive director Billy Starr has raised more than a quarter billion dollars for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) over the years, and the PMC is targeting $30 million as its goal for 2010.

Having kept a training log in preparation for this two-day ride, I ran some numbers and found that I have turned the pedals more than 400,000 times this spring and early summer. My heart monitor has counted about 700,000 heartbeats during my rides. And each turn of the chainring, each heartbeat, brings us a little closer to our goal.

Every moment counts. And every dollar counts.

How many times a day do we spend at least a dollar, almost without thinking? With bottled water going for more than a buck (oh, those poor convenience store clerks who accept smushed greenbacks from bike-jersey baggies), we can all spare that much for this cause, can't we? A small contribution is not only better than nothing but actually truly helpful. Every dollar counts. When a patient goes for chemotherapy, he or she doesn't do it in a vacuum. Who helps to take care of the rest of the family? Who looks out for the emotional well-being of the siblings during this life-altering event known as a cancer diagnosis and treatment? The Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber have pioneered not only many of the medical protocols but also the all-important personal and emotional support networks that we now know are vital in fighting cancer.

A buck pays for crayons for a little kid to draw pictures while his mom is getting chemo. The fund-raising certainly contributes to abstract things such as clinical trials for experimental drugs and treatment, but it also helps to pay for the more understandable, tangible and practical things at one of the most miraculous places on earth. And the word "miracle" has been used quite often among DFCI patients and their families with accuracy and vigor. You can help make miracles happen!

If you've been watching the Tour de France at all (and how 'bout those incredible images supplied by the world feed via the French networks, with the heli shots through the mountains?), you have seen pacelines in group breakaways. A paceline is a few riders (sometimes as many as a dozen) pedaling in single file. As any rider knows, once you get upward of 15 mph, you are spending about one-third of your energy just to battle through the wind resistance. So the riders in a paceline take turns at the front, peeling off after a minute or two of keeping the pace. While the Tour racers go about 30 mph, most of the mortals in our circles do about 20 mph, or a bit higher. But the principle and the implementation of the paceline is the same, regardless of speed.

The important thing is to work in concert with the rest of the line, not to bolt off the front like some kind of hero. You just want to maintain the exact pace of the rider who preceded you at the point of the sword. Do your job, accept your responsibility, sync up perfectly, and guess what? Everyone ends up going faster together — without having to exhaust himself or herself as much, and while having a lot more fun. So you can see where this train (paceline?) of thought is going: The more of us who join in and donate to the PMC, the faster we will progress toward solving the terrifying puzzles of cancer.

There are a lot of different ways to give, and I encourage you to surf around the PMC website via the link to my page at PMC.org. It's an incredible event, and it's all about what New Englanders do for one another and for the rest of the world — we're trying to make our way, help others along the way and make this a better place than we found it.

One of the best things about working in mass media is that every once in a while, you get to use the power of your position to do something good. So if you'll allow me to peel off the front of this line and recover, I will gladly share this charge with you. Whether you see me as a passionate observer of hockey or a blowhard who bleeds Black and Gold, you know this: As I am riding nearly 200 miles on my bicycle over two days, I won't run out of breath. Thanks.

To read why Jack is riding, visit his page. For more information on the event, including a map of the scheduled rides, visit PMC.org.

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