By riding, cheering, or fundraising, Grand Circle associates came together to raise $13,000 for cancer research
It's the nation's original bike-a-thon, and America's single largest athletic fundraising weekend—and in August of 2011, it took place during one of Massachusetts' wettest days in recent memory. As a result, this year's Pan-Mass Challenge was even more challenging than usual… but that didn't deter the team of ten riders representing Grand Circle Foundation, who raised nearly $30,000 to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Founded in 1980 to fund lifesaving cancer research through Dana Farber's Jimmy Fund, the Pan-Mass Challenge consists of several different route options, which range from 25 to 192 miles—so all cyclists, from novice to professional, can select a route that best fits their experience level. Our ten cyclists ran the gamut, but they all had one thing in common: a personal motivation to help fund a cure for cancer. "Throughout the day, I kept saying to myself, 'nothing is as bad as chemo,'" says Julie Miranda, a Senior Developer in Grand Circle's Information Systems department. She rode in memory of her mother and three uncles, all of whom lost their battles to cancer when they were only in their 60s. "The torrential downpours, the flat tire, the river flowing down the road, missing a turn and riding an extra two miles—none of that can compare to chemo."
Julie Kremer, Vice President of Corporate Culture and Communications, also rode in her mother's memory—and encouraged her sister to do the same. "I rode the first 27 miles with my sister, Joan, who had not trained at all for this—she wanted to give up many times along the way. To see the smile on her face when we reached Sharon was priceless—I was so proud of her," says Julie. "When I was riding through those torrential downpours, I kept thinking about the commitment I'd made to myself and the many generous donors, and that kept me going. And when I rode to the finish line at Babson College, my mom was of course on my mind. I know she was smiling down on me!"
While the motivation that inspired our team was serious, the entire company got into the spirit of fundraising—and had fun doing it. They donated creative prizes for a building-wide raffle, and sold popcorn from an old-fashioned machine in the lobby. The fundraising highlight, however, was the annual (and somewhat infamous) hotdog-eating contest, in which associates pledge a certain amount for every hotdog consumed by their favorite eater. After downing a record-breaking nine hotdogs, Matt "Meat Crusher" Correia, Circulation Analyst, was the undisputed winner.
During the ride itself, associates further proved that you don't need to be a cyclist to show support for the Pan-Mass Challenge. More than 30 volunteers, led by Senior Travel Counselor Marty Arliss and Director of Regional Accounting Joanne LaTraverse, woke at the break of dawn on August 7 to staff a Foundation-sponsored water stop in Sharon—which provided both motivation and refreshment for riders during their journey. The smiles and cheers of the volunteers were a welcome respite from the downpours that persisted that day.
In all, the 2011 Pan-Mass Challenge was a moving example of Grand Circle associates coming together for a common cause. "Riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge gives me such a feeling of camaraderie," says Maury Peterson, Vice President of Grand Circle Foundation, who rode for the second time in honor of her mother and a friend who is currently battling cancer. "The event challenges me, pushes me beyond my comfort zone, and leaves me feeling hugely inspired."
"I can't wait to ride again next year," Maury adds. "Who wants to join me?"
Featured in our August 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.