On long journeys, landmarks and milestones show us where we are and how far we’ve come. Since 1980, the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), the beloved bike-a-thon and the nation’s most successful athletic fundraiser, has seen plenty of both. Iconic spots along the ride evoke progress and pride, like Cherry Street, where the community motivates riders with high energy; the touching tributes to PMC Pedal Partners displayed on the stretch of road leading to the Lakeville water stop; and the dunes on the Cape, which spark a feeling of accomplishment when they finally come into view. At the same time, the PMC’s momentous fundraising milestones, surpassed year after year, enable equally ambitious advances in cancer research and care at Dana-Farber.
On August 5–6, the PMC hit a higher gear yet again during its 44th ride, as 6,500 riders from 44 states, territories, and districts and 6 countries pedaled 16 routes ranging from 25 to 211 miles across Massachusetts, or reimagined their rides in locations of their choosing. They were aided by more than 3,000 volunteers and 200 corporate sponsors, whose investment ensured that 100% of every rider-raised dollar goes directly to Dana-Farber. Nearly 1,000 cancer patients and survivors rode and volunteered as Living Proof of the PMC’s impact. Including funds raised in the PMC Winter Cycle, PMC Unpaved, and PMC Kids Rides, the committed PMC community generated a record-breaking 2023 gift of $72 million, bringing the organization’s cumulative total to an astonishing $972 million raised since 1980—putting the unprecedented $1 billion fundraising milestone squarely in sight for 2024.
As Dana-Farber’s largest single contributor, accounting for more than 62% of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue, the PMC remains the powerhouse for progress at the Institute, as it has for more than four decades, and is accelerating the success of The Dana-Farber Campaign. Philanthropy from the PMC helped Dana-Farber’s basic scientists discover the role of a protein called PD-L1 in blocking an immune attack on tumor cells, launching a new class of drugs called “immune checkpoint inhibitors” that revolutionized cancer immunotherapy.
PMC support also bolsters Dana-Farber’s clinical trials program, one of the largest in the country with more than 1,100 trials offered. Fueled in part by PMC funding, Institute investigators played a substantial role in the development of over half of all cancer drugs approved by the FDA in the last five years, including accelerated approval for a novel treatment for metastatic HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer in 2023. Speeding these new medicines from the lab to clinics everywhere improves the lives of patients worldwide.
Resources from the PMC have also helped Dana-Farber’s Cancer Care Equity Program (CCEP) double in size over the past year, expanding research-based interventions that alleviate health disparities, increase access, and enhance outcomes in medically underserved populations. This includes community-focused patient navigation, through which trained staff provide need-based assistance with transportation, language services, medical expenses, health insurance, nutrition, and other potential barriers to optimal care.
Such progress propelled by the PMC since its inception has helped many more people live better and longer with cancer, with the number of survivors in the United States growing from less than 5 million in 1980 to more than 18 million and counting today. This tremendous improvement exemplifies the PMC’s multifaceted impact on Dana-Farber’s important work and everyone who benefits. Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, Dana-Farber president and CEO, the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine, and 8-year PMC rider, said: “All of us at the Institute are truly inspired by and grateful for the PMC’s extraordinary support, which empowers every life-changing advance we achieve.”
The PMC is determined to do even more to help Dana-Farber go the distance against cancer. “There’s a lot riding on the everyday heroes in the PMC community,” said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC and a Dana-Farber Trustee. “And with their continued unwavering commitment to our mission we will keep bringing cures closer by the mile.”
For more stories about the impact of philanthropy at Dana-Farber, please visit DanaFarberImpact.org.