Grand Circle participants reflect on a great ride for an even greater cause
Earlier this month, eight Grand Circle associates—including Alan and Charlotte Lewis—participated in the 31st annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge to benefit the Jimmy Fund. Together, Grand Circle associates and Grand Circle Foundation raised more than $36,000 for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Prior to their rides, we asked these associates why they choose to participate. Here, our riders share their thoughts on the experience …
Alan’s Ride: In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer. That was my impetus to start riding. I won my battle, but since then, I’ve seen good friends lose theirs. I ride for my friends’ memories, and to show my deep appreciation for my health and my physical ability to get on a bike and pedal. Without the research and treatment that Dana-Farber helps make possible, I would not be here today.
This is my ninth year riding PMC, and for me, it’s always a deeply moving experience. Whether I do it with my family, friends, or on my own, the emotion is always the same. I’ll keep riding as long as I’m able to do so.
Charlotte’s ride: I love my dad. I love sports. And I love biking. Five years ago, dad asked me to ride with him. I said, “No—you’re crazy to bike so far.” Then he asked me again in 2008. My dad survived cancer and I’m smart enough now to know that anything I can do to support my dad and the Jimmy Fund, I will.
With Grand Circle since: 2003
Title: Grand Circle Foundation Database Coordinator
Brian’s ride: In 2006, my friend Paul and I rode in the Pan-Mass Challenge. His motivation for doing so was a very personal one: He rode 192 miles in honor of his late mother, who lost her battle with melanoma when he was a teenager.
Today, Paul is a proud father and in his second year as a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, fighting his own courageous battle with melanoma. In 2006, he rode 192 miles with me, and I had trouble keeping up. This year, we went to PMC day at Fenway and Paul could barely climb up to our seats. We made it to about the third inning before I had to take him home. He just finished another round of treatment at Dana Farber, and he’s hoping to get his strength back soon. So this year, I’m riding for him and the countless others like him who are battling cancer. Thanks to the PMC, the event’s sponsors, and Dana Farber, Paul has a far better chance of beating his cancer than his mother ever had.
With Grand Circle since: 2009
Title: Outbound Sales Associate
Gabriel’s ride: This August, I'll ride in the Pan Mass Challenge, an annual bike race that was founded in 1980 and has since raised $270 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. My ride from Wellesley to Bourne is 84 miles, and my goal is to raise $3,000.
I'll ride this race for the first time in memory of my Great-Aunt Alison. It came as a terrible shock when she was diagnosed with lung cancer this past March. She had always been so youthful and healthy. Despite struggling through radiation and chemo treatment, Alison passed away on June 25. She was loved by so many, and will be missed deeply. I'll ride for the memory of Alison, and for all of our loved ones that were taken from us too soon by cancer.
With Grand Circle since: 2000
Title: Vice President, Grand Circle Foundation
Maury’s ride: I’m not an avid cyclist and have never attempted to ride ten miles, let alone 84, but I’ve chosen to ride the PMC as a way to honor my mother and bring hope to a dear friend. Twenty years ago this year, my mom passed away of cancer. She passed away in the prime of her life, and I can honestly say that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. Riding in the PMC is my way of honoring my mom by turning a sad milestone into an event that will help others. In addition, it gives me an opportunity to teach my son, Finn, more about his grandmother and the importance of giving back.
I’m also riding to bring hope to my dear friend, Suzanne. Suzanne and I first met as Peace Corps volunteers in Africa and we’ve been friends for more than 20 years. Now the mother of two, Suzanne is currently fighting breast cancer that has spread to her bones, liver, and brain. It’s hard to sit by and watch someone you love suffer. Riding in the PMC gives me an opportunity to feel like I’m doing something to bring hope to Suzanne.
Pedaling from Wellesley to Bourne won’t be an easy feat for me, but I know I can do it. After all, I’ve learned about perseverance, determination, and courage from two of the very best.
With Grand Circle since: 1988
Title: Executive Vice President, Real Estate Operations
Kurt’s ride: For many years, I supported Pan Mass Challenge riders, friends, and families who made their annual contribution of time, sweat, and determination to bring cancer research one step closer to finding a cure. Today, I find myself in the completely unexpected position of riding and raising funds for all of the reasons that were seemingly not of this universe one year ago. Only last week, after many months of chemotherapy and radiation, Shari—my wife and best friend—is now among the thousands of breast cancer survivors who have benefited from years of research and effort on behalf of all diagnosed with cancer. Shari’s prognosis is positive because of all of those who have contributed so much to research over the years through events like PMC. Shari and I enjoy bike riding and only her doctor’s intervention prevented her from riding with me in this year’s PMC event. So, this year I ride for both of us—but next year will be different.
I am also riding for Kathy Killilea, one of my fellow associates who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Kathy is a fun, wonderful co-worker and friend to all. She has been fighting cancer for close to a year and is truly a tireless warrior. Both Shari and Kathy have inspired me to take action and make a difference.
With Grand Circle since: 2000
Title: Business Intelligence Developer
Tom’s ride: I ride in honor of my wife’s younger brother Carl, a husband and father, who found his peace last year after a long battle with brain cancer. I ride because I’ve seen the impact of this disease on a family. I’ve seen the love that holds them together. I’ve seen differences put aside. I’ve seen the odds fought long and hard. I’ve seen hopes raise and fall with each new test and treatment. I’ve felt the impact of the ultimate reality. I’ve seen the pain of the empty place at family gatherings. I’ve wondered, along with others, why it wasn’t me, why it was him. I’ve seen a mother worry about having a "fake" Christmas tree because daddy isn’t here to set up the real one. I’ve seen a woman wonder what the family will say as she thinks about trying to rebuild her life with someone else. But, this is not the true tragedy. The true tragedy is that so many families go through this each and every day … that new families begin this journey everyday. I ride in the hope that every year, every month, and every day fewer and fewer families the world over have to face this challenge. I ride in the hope that someday, soon, others won’t have to.
With Grand Circle since: 2005
Title: Senior Vice President, Accounting
Christopher’s ride: This is my third year of riding and I am happy to say, I continue to be blessed with the good fortune that nobody in my family or immediate circle of friends has been afflicted with cancer. So I don’t have that specific impetus to drive me to ride. I ride because I know that cancer kills many good people and that we have to find a cure. I’m a proud supporter of the PMC because it is leading the charge to beat cancer by supporting the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. My wife is a nurse who, for the past 30 years, has worked to help people—and it is through her eyes and her words that I have seen and heard about cancer, but also about the great work that is done at Dana Farber. As long as I can ride, I will do it to be part of finding a cure for this terrible disease.
Learn more about the work of Grand Circle Foundation by visiting our website.