Franklin County cyclists gear up for Pan-Mass Challenge

  • Deerfield resident Lauren Stobierski is one of eight Franklin County residents taking part in the Pan-Mass Challenge charity event this weekend. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Deerfield resident Lauren Stobierski is one of eight Franklin County residents taking part in the Pan-Mass Challenge charity event this weekend. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Deerfield resident Lauren Stobierski is one of eight Franklin County residents taking part in the Pan-Mass Challenge charity event this weekend. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2022 2:43:10 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 9:38:07 AM

Sitting on his in-laws’ back porch in Sandwich 12 years ago, Joseph Butz and his family heard what seemed to be a never-ending stream of voices going by the house.

Upon investigation, they found a sizable group of cyclists passing by and chalked it up as a “pretty cool” bike ride. Picking up the Cape Cod Times the next morning, Butz learned it was actually the Pan-Mass Challenge, the annual charity bike ride that raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“The rest is history,” the Deerfield resident said, adding that he convinced his brother-in-law to participate in the ride. “The first year it was him and my two other brother-in-laws; we were team Bro-In-Law.”

This year, at least eight Franklin County residents will be among the thousands of bikers from around New England that kick off routes to Provincetown, all while raising thousands of dollars for cancer research.

The Pan-Mass Challenge was founded in 1980 by Executive Director Billy Starr and has since raised $831 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. The event donates 100-percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause, generating 55 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue as Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor, according to a press release from the Pan-Mass Challenge.

Each rider is embarking on the nearly 200-mile challenge, completed over two days (Aug. 6-7), with a desire to honor friends and family who have been afflicted with cancer. 

“I was inspired by my dad. I think he rode in 2017 for my grandmother, who was battling cancer for about five years,” said Deerfield resident Lauren Stobierski. “About two years later I decided to do it with one of my girlfriends for my grandmother and I just have never stopped.”

For Butz, Team Bro-In-Law has evolved into #KristenStrong, named for his sister-in-law, who battled a rare form of cancer for 14 years. This year he is riding in memory of his friend Bill Plumley, who recently passed away after battling multiple myeloma for more than a decade.

“When you’re with somebody and you see what they go through … you just see the energy and inspiration that they provide,” Butz said. “I admire them for their strength and endurance and everything they put in.”

Greenfield resident Rebecca Clemente said she rides the Pan-Mass Challenge to support cancer research that has helped friends live longer with cancer.

“For me, just seeing more people and knowing more people who are living with cancer,” Clemente said, “it’s a testament that all this research and development is paying off.”

Both Butz and Stobierski are taking on the 187-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown – broken up into two, eight-hour rides –  while Clemente will be volunteering for the event on Saturday and will ride from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to Provincetown on Sunday.

Training, the cyclists said, is often difficult, but those difficulties pale in comparison to what their friends and family members have gone through between chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Whenever I do it, I always think, ‘Yes, I know there’s a lot of miles, but it’s not as bad as battling cancer,’” Stobierski said. “That helps me stay focused.”

Butz, who is 61 years old, said while his age can sometimes impact him, that won’t stop him from supporting his loved ones.

“Every year it gets a little more daunting,” Butz said. “But every time I get on the bike, I smile and think about my friends and family and it becomes a pretty easy ride after that.”

Clemente, who is also a marathon runner, said she, too, uses her friends and family to power her through training sessions.

“For me, it’s just continuing to challenge myself in ways … and thinking about all the people in my life,” Clemente said. “By the time I get to the Cape, I want my ride to be an easy ride.”

As part of the Pan-Mass Challenge, each rider must raise money for Dana-Farber. Stobierski’s donation page can be found here, Butz’ page can be found here and Clemente’s donation link can be found here.

“I think it’s the best weekend of the summer personally,” Stobierski said. “The energy, the excitement, the fact that everyone knows we’re making a difference.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.