Late Fall 2022
By Michael Quinn
Photography by Pan-Mass Challenge
The world can always use more good news, so here is something great—the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), the annual bike-a-thon that raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country, had its best year yet, raising a record $69 million for Dana-Farber in 2022. This historic performance brought the PMC’s cumulative fundraising total to an extraordinary $900 million since 1980, an enduring testament to everyone who has come together over the years to bring cures for cancer closer by the mile.
United by this powerful purpose, 6,400 riders from 43 states and 8 countries hit the road for the 43rd PMC on August 6 and 7. Participants pedaled 16 routes from 25 to 211 miles across Massachusetts during one of the hottest rides on record, supported by 2,700 volunteers and countless cheering fans along the way. One hundred and forty Dana-Farber faculty and staff rode or volunteered, as did a record 950 cancer survivors and patients who are considered Living Proof of the PMC mission.
The PMC’s power is generated by the commitment of folks like Nancy Cantor, a 24-year PMC participant and captain of Team Ovarian Cancer. For 16 years she rode with the Stem Cell Cyclists to support the research of Corey Cutler, MD, medical director for Dana-Farber’s Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Program. But in 2022, she chose a different route, establishing Team Ovarian Cancer in honor of Janet Snider and Mara Castello, two ovarian cancer patients she met through the Dream Factory Community, a forum for women entrepreneurs that she founded. Nancy’s new team raised over $75,000 to support a groundbreaking immunotherapy trial led by Ursula Matulonis, MD, chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the Brock-Wilson Family Chair at Dana-Farber.
Like many in the PMC, Cantor rode for lost loved ones, such as Snider; those who are living with cancer, such as Castello; and for the research that will ultimately save more lives, such as Matulonis’ study. She was glad to spend time with her team, grateful to all who propelled their success, and proud of the difference they made together. “It takes a community to cure cancer, and everyone’s support makes us want to work even harder,” said Cantor.
Her efforts and those of the entire PMC community have a maximum impact on patients because, thanks to the support of 200 corporate sponsors, including co-presenting sponsors Red Sox Foundation and M&T Bank, every rider-raised dollar goes directly to Dana-Farber’s world-class cancer research and care. And as the Institute’s largest single donor, accounting for more than 60% of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue, the PMC fuels everything the Institute does to defy cancer. Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, Dana-Farber president and CEO, the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine, and 7-year PMC rider, sees the impact of PMC funding each day across the Institute’s labs and clinics and beyond. “Because of the PMC, Dana-Farber is forging scientific breakthroughs, translating these advances into better therapies, and delivering on our promise of extraordinary patient care for all,” said Glimcher. “And for that, the PMC will always have our deepest gratitude.”
According to Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC and an Institute Trustee, this year was special precisely because it was normal, as many COVID-19 restrictions from the past two years were lifted and the ride returned to its traditional pre-pandemic form. “It was a blessing to live this weekend as we knew it, with all its greatness and humanity,” Starr said. “The PMC is bigger than any one of us, and what we achieve together lifts us all.”