East Boston resident Nicole Azero said she signs up each year for the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) bike-a-thon because she knows she’s part of an event that has one of the largest impacts on the cancer research community in the world but the pandemic has hampered many fundraising efforts.
“Over the past year, most fundraisers have not raised the amount of money they normally see through their events, including the PMC,” said Azero. “However, I know this year will be a turnaround year for many and I hope to help those who need it most through my ride in 2021. You don’t hear of many events where 100 percent of rider-raised revenue goes directly to a cause. But for the PMC, 100% of the proceeds support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute located in Boston.”
On Aug. 7 and 8, Azero will join eight other East Boston residents and more than 6,000 riders for the two-day 211-mile bike-a-thon across Massachusetts, with the goal of raising $52 million for cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Dana-Farber).
PMC is the nation’s single most successful athletic fundraiser, donating 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar to Dana-Farber as its largest single contributor, accounting for 64 percent of its Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue. For the first time since 2019, more than 6,000 riders from 47 states and 11 countries will once again hit the road together during the first weekend of August with the common goal of making an impact in the fight against cancer. In 2020, the PMC raised an impressive $50 million through its summer-long Reimagined campaign, bringing its 41-year contribution to $767 million.
Another rider from Eastie, Kenny Zarrilli, said he got involved because he lost his father to cancer as a young boy.
“Although I never got to know him because of this terrible disease, I have observed the effects his loss has had on my family members over the years, from my mother and brother, to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends,” said Zarrilli. “No doubt, it has been a long, difficult journey for myself as well. At times I have felt lost, not knowing where to turn because I didn’t have available to me the stalwart influence and sage wisdom only a father can provide. I want to ride to raise money so that no other family has to experience this and so no other young boy has to grow up without a father because of cancer.”
PMC 2021 will include 16 routes – from 25 to 211 miles – designed to cater to all levels of cycling and fundraising ability, including Reimagined options for those who prefer to complete their PMC ride on their own. Most participate in honor of a family member or friend fighting cancer and more than 950 riders and volunteers are cancer survivors or current patients, considered Living Proof® of the PMC mission. More than 150 Dana-Farber employees are committed to the cause as riders and volunteers as well, in some cases to fund their own cancer research.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring our passionate PMC riders, volunteers, donors and sponsors back together in person for PMC Ride Weekend this year,” said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC. “With fully supported routes and Reimagined options, everyone can customize their PMC experience to join us in the fight against cancer. Cancer doesn’t stop for anything, even a global pandemic, and funding for research, treatment and care is as critical as ever.”
Riders from Eastie in this year’s PMC are: Nicole Azero; Joseph Frasso; Becca Patnode; Erin Phinney; Shawn Ray; James Rogers; Colin Smith; David Tritto and Kenny Zarrilli.