Pan-Mass Challenge Cyclist Rides out of Gratitude
Milton resident Brendan McLaughlin has participated in eight Pan-Massachusetts Challenges, a 170-mile bike ride that benefits the Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund.
The riders in the 33rd Annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a charity bike-a-thon that took place on August 4 and 5, all have their reasons to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.
Milton resident Brendan McLaughlin rode the 170-mile, two-day route from Wellesley to Provincetown, out of gratitude. For the eighth time, McLaughlin rode for previous cancer patients, for doctors, for nurses and for hope.
The McLaughlin family’s dedication to the cause supported by the weekend trek across the state began with a cancer diagnosis in 1994.
Brendan and his wife Mary McLaughlin, who participated in the PMC from 2001 to 2004 and in 2006 and 2007, took their then two-year old son Conor to the doctor for a routine check-up. The state-required blood test for lead turned up an unusual result.
McLaughlin recalls being told the worst-case scenario was leukemia. Further tests confirmed the worst and the family went right to the hospital. For two years, Conor was treated at the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
The McLaughlin’s story has a happy ending. Conor was cured. Now 18, he graduated from Noble and Greenough School in Dedham this spring and will start classes at Dickinson College next month.
“We’re just very grateful,” said McLaughlin before the ride.
McLaughlin said his gratitude is to the people who preceded Conor, enabling for the research that lead to his recovery.
He’s also thankful for the doctors and nurses who treated his son.
“We just want to support their work,” McLaughlin said.
Part of that support is the fundraising that comes with events like the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. This year, McLaughlin joined 5,500 cyclists who we given a collective goal of raise $36 million. The event is the largest athletic fundraising event in the country.
Throughout their time riding, Mary and Brendan have always represented Team Perini, targeting their fundraising for Perini Clinic within Dana Farber.
The Perini Clinic focuses on researching the long-term effects of pediatric and adult-onset cancer.
“There’s a lot of unknown effects of chemotherapy and radiation,” said McLaughlin of the Perini Clinic’s research.
Among the throng of riders and their many reasons for cycling across the commonwealth, one group has grown noticeably since McLaughlin’s first PMC in 2003.
The “Living Proof” team, made up of cancer survivors, participates in the ride each year. McLaughlin recalls the group being about 30 or 40 cyclists strong when he started. In 2010, his last time riding prior to 2012 because of knee surgery, McLaughlin said the team was so large a crane was needed for a group photo.
Besides the survivors, plenty of people also ride in memory of loved ones who were taken by cancer.
And then, “You get people like me that are riding out of gratitude,” McLaughlin said.
No matter the reason, the goal, a cure for cancer, brings thousands of riders to the streets each year.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge go to www.pmc.org and click on “Donate. To sponsor Brendan McLaughlin, select “Donate to Rider” and enter his name. Checks made out to "PMC - Jimmy Fund" can also be sent to McLaughlin at 3 Herrick Drive, Milton, MA 02186.
Donations for the PMC are accepted until November.