38th Pan Mass Challenge to Bring Record Number of Riders to Cape Cod

Riders traveling across Cape Cod during the 2016 Pan Mass Challenge.

BOURNE – A record 4,500 bicyclists will traverse Cape Cod Sunday for the annual Pan Mass Challenge to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The challenge begins Saturday with riders taking off from Sturbridge and Wellesley and traveling to Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

Beginning at sun up on Sunday, participants will travel across the Cape Cod Canal and all the way to Provincetown.

Pan Mass Challenge Founder Billy Starr says the event has become the largest “a-thon” in the world.

“Last year we gave a record setting $47 million from this event,” Starr said. “This year we have a goal setting $48 million goal.”

Starr said, as of Tuesday morning, fundraising for this year is tracking incredibly well.

More than 6,200 bicyclists and 4,000 volunteers are participating in the 38th annual event. The challenge consists of 13 different routes through 46 different towns. More than 300,000 are donating money on behalf of the riders.

“At the end of the day when we achieve our goal it should represent about 55 percent of the Jimmy Funds’ annual revenue,” Starr said. “So we are fond of saying ‘there is a lot riding on us.’”

The event has raised $547 million since it began in 1980.

Starr started the Pan-Mass Challenge after he lost his mother, uncle and cousin to cancer in the 1970s.

“About the same time I started doing an annual to Provincetown from my father’s house in Newton. It was about 120 miles,” Starr said. “The idea just started kicking around in my head.”

Starr was not a cyclist but he was athletic. He said he loved the travel and loved getting to know Cape Cod better.

“When I created the PMC in 1980 it was really a purge of some personal pain to try and do something,” Starr said. “It wasn’t a career plan.”

The inaugural PMC in 1980 raised $10,200 with 36 riders.

“I was listening to how people felt about the experience and just something went off in my head and I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to make this thing big,” Starr said.

Starr said he never imagined the event could go from raising just over $10,000 to over $47 million in a single year.

“I always knew it could be bigger in every sense – riders, volunteers, average check, corporate backing, publicity – every aspect that impacts a business,” he said.

Starr said motorists should be patient across the state this weekend.

“There’s a lot going on, a lot of people on bikes,” Starr said. “All you people in cars be nice and know that we are all on the same team when it comes to finding the cures for cancer.”

To donate visit pmc.org.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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