“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.”
A beautiful little girl held up that sign during the lunch stop of the Pan-Mass Challenge, and I saw many other ones that encouraged and inspired. Another one, “Thank you for riding and saving my life,” may have most simply and most eloquently expressed the reason for riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge: I did it to help raise funds for cancer research and to help save lives. It was a truly humbling and rewarding experience.
It rained. It rained, it rained, it rained yesterday, and by the time I reached the first water stop at 8:15 am, I was completely drenched! My cycling shoes, for whatever reasons, have a slight hole in sole of them—probably for aerodynamic reasons—and those holes let the rain rush right in! The opening ceremony at Babson College celebrated and thanked the more than 5,700 riders leaving from Sturbridge and from Wellesley. We left a smidgen early, hoping to avoid the rain, but to no avail: it started in Dover, let up at lunch in Rehoboth, but then continued for the remainder of the Ride. In spite of the rain (or, perhaps, because of it), the Ride was pleasant. We rode steadily and happily through the southeastern towns of Massachusetts, ignoring the rain and enjoying the camaraderie. We finished the day at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne around 1 in the afternoon.
As a member of Team 9, the Red Sox Charitable Organization, I enjoyed a comfortable experience: we were feted at the beginning of the Ride, and when we arrived in Bourne, we had hot showers and eager masseurs and masseuses ready to attend to us! My friend, Stacey Lucchino, is the generous woman who has given me the opportunity to participate on Team 9 and to contribute to this exceedingly worthy cause. I am so grateful that our lives intersected more than a decade ago when I was at Roxbury Latin. Of course, being a member of Team 9 yesterday, with my bright yellow Sox jersey—check out pictures on Facebook—I was the subject of much trade speculation: “Hey, have the Sox traded you yet,” is what I heard at every water stop.
Overall, the experience was wonderful. Riding with people who had compelling reasons and listening to their stories motivated and humbled me. The Ride was populated with men, women, and children who profusely cheered, celebrated, and thanked us for our efforts, even in the rain. Many of the riders wore ribbons or pictures in honor of loved ones struggling with or lost to cancer. Every person I met rode with purpose, and I was grateful to be a part of such a well-organized, well executed, and important ride. We will raise over 40 million for Cancer research, and I am so pleased, because of your largesse, to have had a hand in such a brilliant event. I have to thank Stacey for nudging me to ride. She is an exceptional woman who has done so much for Boston in her 13 years in the city. I also want to thank Kathryn Quirk and Jack Verducci of the Red Sox, Dan Rea, a former student and present employee of the Red Sox, Gretchen Rice, a former student and volunteer extraordinaire for Pan-Mass, and Alison Rush of Pan-Mass. All helped me along the way. Last, I want to thank Billy Starr, the founder and executive director, for making this possible. This Challenge is one of the most life-affirming activities that I have ever done, and he should be proud of what he has created: a community of cyclists and volunteers who will move heaven and earth to help people stricken with cancer. What a powerful community.
These words from Isaiah are with me as I think about the Challenge, your generosity, and all the people that we helped: “…but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). I feel renewed and ready for my next challenge. Thank you, friends, for your support and your belief in me.