North Reading Resident Rides PMC as Member of Team Make Way for Molly
Lisa Zanchi has seen first-hand the results of the Pan-Mass Challenge.
North Reading resident Lisa Zanchi is proof of the power of the Pan-Mass Challenge. In 2006, Zanchi's cousin Molly was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her family members decided to form a team and ride the PMC. Zanchi was unable to join the team that first year, but the following year, she joined and she will be riding for the fifth consecutive year this year.
"That first year there were six people," said Zanchi. "And it grew to 20 people in one year. This year we'll have about 10 people riding." Zanchi added the ranks of the team have expanded from just family to include friends of family.
The Pan-Mass Challenge is a two-day bike-a-thon from Sturbridge to Provincetown. The event, held every year since 1979, is the largest fundraising athletic event in the country, every penny raised donated for research to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Participants can ride as part of one leg of the event or the entire two-day 191 mile stretch.
"As a group, we all do the Wellesley to Bourne route," said Zanchi, adding that some members of the group ride the entire course. She has yet to try the entire course, but has not ruled it out for a future event. "Training has become easier each year. You know what to expect, where the hills are, how to ride better."
Outside of the family connection, the camaraderie and support of all the other riders and spectators keeps Zanchi coming back.
"In everyday life, we're all individuals, doing our own thing. We don't really talk to other people that much any more. But during the ride, people will ride up to you and just start talking, telling their stories of who they're riding for," she said. "Maybe it's because we all have something in common, everyone knows someone who has had to deal with cancer. And the spectators tell us their stories, too. It's made a difference in so many lives."
Last year Molly, now 16, was going to participate but she broke her foot that summer and was not able to participate. But maybe next year, according to Zanchi, she'll be riding with her team and raising money for other survivors.