They all have their own reasons for riding, but it’s mainly due to cancer and losing loved ones to the disease.
Next weekend, Naples own Mary Catherine Wickham, Jeff Wesson and Chris House will be participating in the 32nd annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge to raise money for cancer research and treatment.
The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is one of the oldest fundraising bike-a-thons in America, and has helped raise more money than any other sports fundraising event in the country.
But what caused the Naples residents to travel more than 1,000 miles for this fundraiser?
“My uncle Jeff is who got me into it,” said Wickham.
The 23-year-old University of Florida graduate further explained that her uncle, Jeff, asked her to ride in the PMC at a recent family reunion. Jeff Wickham has been riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge for two years in honor of his father who died of lung cancer. Eventually, Mary Catherine Wickham agreed to ride alongside her uncle, father and two cousins in the 2011 PMC in memory of her grandfather.
“This disease has left me angry, frustrated and sad to have lost loved ones to something that may be curable,” Wickham said in her online PMC profile. “I am riding to remember those who have fought this disease and lost. I am riding for those who are fighting this disease and are winning. I am riding to help defeat cancer.”
Wickham has raised $900 so far and hopes to raise at least $1,000, if not even more money for her cause. If you would like to support Wickham in the PMC, visit her profile page at www.pmc.org/profile/MW0198.
Wesson, 38, with be participating in the PMC for the seventh year. Over the course of his seven-year commitment he has raised $26,500. He the fifth member of Team Tom’s Troopers. He will be riding 192 miles over the course of two days.
Like Wickham, Wesson has also lost someone very dear to him to cancer, and it motivates him to help raise money for a cure.
“I lost my uncle to renal cell cancer 10 years ago,” Wesson said.
Some of his training will include riding a specialized Tarmac bike around Naples. “I hope to do 1,000 miles before the event,” he said.
In his seven years riding in the PMC, he has raised $26,500. This year, Wesson has already raised $1,525 toward his goal of $6,000.
In Wesson’s PMC profile page, he says, “I am a proud supporter of the PMC because it is leading a charge to beat cancer. In fact, last year 100 percent of rider-raised revenue went directly to support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s tireless commitment to finding a cure.”
If you wish to support Wesson in the PMC, visit his profile page at www.pmc.org/profile/JW0159.
Chris House is 45 and this is his first year riding in the PMC. He has raised $4,865 toward his goal of $6,600 and he is the 100th member of the Patriots Platelet Peddlers Team. He will be riding 163 miles over the course of two days.
The team is made up of “weekend warriors to triathletes” that come from diverse backgrounds. The Patriots Platelet Peddlers have raised more than $7 million for the PMC and many other fundraising events.
“For our team members who will be participating in PMC 2011, our goals remain the same; not only to raise funds for and ride in the PMC, but also to raise awareness and educate the community on why platelet donations are so critical,” the team’s website states. “We are committed to increasing team size, team fundraising, platelet donors, and platelet donations.”
If you wish to support House in the PMC, visit his profile page at www.pmc.org/profile/CH0180.
Billy Starr, the founder and executive director of the PMC, has participated in every event since its inception in 1980.
“I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” said Starr.
This year, Starr, along with the Naples residents, will ride alongside nearly 300 riders who are cancer survivors or current patients. “The important thing to remember is that the PMC is not a race. There is no time limit. No winners or losers. We’re all here doing a part in the fight against cancer,” said Starr.
In its 31 years, the PMC has raised more than $300 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is part of a comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute located in Boston, Mass.
If you wish to learn more or participate in the PMC, visit their website at www.pmc.org.