Pan-Mass Challenge founder Billy Starr’s mother, Betty, died of melanoma shortly after Billy graduated from college. She was 49. Soon after, a 25-year-old Billy set out with three friends to hike the Appalachian Trail. Starr organized all the details, and when nature pelted the young men with freezing rain for the first eight days of their trek, it was Starr who encouraged them on to keep going.
In 1980, Billy decided to funnel all that he had learned during that trek about physical and emotional toughness into organizing a two-day bicycle ride to help raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In its first year, the ride raised $10,200 and had 36 riders who rode from Springfield to Provincetown. From these modest beginnings, the PMC has grown into the largest single athletic fundraiser in the country, drawing 6,700 cyclists from 47 states and 16 countries. Each August, cyclists ride for one or two days on one of 12 routes ranging from 25 to 192 miles. PMC Kids Rides, held throughout New England each spring and fall, and the annual PMC Winter Cycle also contribute to the PMC’s annual goal in support of Dana-Farber.
The PMC has been helping patients, their families, researchers, and clinicians Defy Cancer for more than 40 years. It is Dana-Farber’s largest single contributor, having donated a total of $900 million in the past 43 years.