Pan-Mass Challenge Again to Bring Record Number of Riders to Cape Cod

BOURNE – The world’s largest “bike-a-thon” will once again bring a record number of participants to Cape Cod this weekend.

For the 39th year the Pan-Mass Challenge will raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

A record 6,300 bicyclists have registered for the event which rides from Sturbridge and Wellesley to Mass Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay on Saturday and across the canal all the way to Provincetown on Sunday.

Last year the event raised a record $51 million bringing the total amount raised through the 38 challenges to $598 million.

“This year we have a $52 million goal,” said Billy Starr, the founder of the fundraising event.

As of this week, Starr said fundraising for this year is tracking well.

“Revenue is up. We are looking good,” he said.

Starr started the Pan-Mass Challenge in 1980 after losing his mother, uncle and cousin to cancer in the 1970s. He said he never could have imagined how big the event would become back then.

“After that first year I said ‘that’s it for me, I’m going to make this thing big,’” Starr said.

The first year had 36 riders and raised $10,200.

“I think all the way down the line I had an idea how to grow it,” he said.

Starr said it has meant a lot to him to play this big of a role in funding cancer research because of the loss of his close relatives.

“The event has real breadth and imagination to it,” he said. “It appealed to me and I wouldn’t understand why it wouldn’t appeal to others.”

The event now represents 55 percent of the Jimmy Funds annual revenue.

“You can’t have enough money and you can’t have enough community involvement with something as complex as cancer,” Starr said.

Starr said the cures can’t come quick enough, particularly for individuals experiencing it both personally or as a family member.

“But step by step we do make progress and we get closer by the mile,” he said. “And that is the PMC mantra – ‘Closer by the Mile.’”

Starr said the positive impact of the event speaks for itself. This year, 901 people who are cancer survivors are either participating in the ride or working as a volunteer.

“It’s powerful and I think people respond to it,” Starr said about the PMC. “It’s personal.”

General donations or donations for specific riders can be made at

“You can sponsor me,” Starr said. “I’m riding. I have a $100,000 goal and I raise money like everyone else.”

One-hundred percent of every dollar raised goes directly to cancer care and research.


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