STURBRIDGE – Thousands of cyclists are gearing up for the 43rd Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend. The annual ride is the largest event in the world to raise money for athletics.
So far, the PMC has raised $831 million for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The goal for this year is $66 million.
This year, 6,400 riders will cycle across the state on 16 different trails ranging from 25 to 211 miles.
The opening ceremony was held Friday night at the Sturbridge Host Hotel.
Billy Starr founded the ride in 1980. At the time, it was only 36 riders who raised $10,000. Now Starr says they’ve found what he calls the secret sauce. It keeps people coming back, while new riders are eager to get involved.
“We know our role, the metaphor of turning the bicycle crankshaft, we are the crank!” said Starr.
The first time riders tell WBZ that they are motivated by the effects of cancer on their families or in some cases on themselves.
“I’ve been on Gleevac or Imatinib, a targeted drug therapy that, to my knowledge, wouldn’t exist without the Pan Mass Challenge,” said cancer survivor John Buchta.
“Last year I lost my mother to cancer, she died last November on Thanksgiving Day,” Warren Rabin said for the first time.
Last year, parts of the PMC were restricted due to COVID restrictions. This year, Starr expects 1,200 more people for the weekend alone.