Stow Cyclists Conquer PMC, Raise More Than $70,000 to Fight Cancer

Published in the August 15, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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There were tears. There were technical difficulties. But in the end, there was triumph.

Stow residents who braved the oppressive heat on August 4-5 to ride in the annual 192-mile Pan Mass Challenge, many of them for the first time, collectively raised more than $70,000 for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Center.

Leading the way with more than $32,000 pledged is Terri Nord, a veterinarian at Framingham Animal Hospital, who says that all of her pledges have come from individuals rather than corporate sponsors.

“All my donations truly come from my clients,” said Nord, who rode in the PMC for the second consecutive year. “What warms my heart is that some of my elderly patients are on fixed incomes, but they'd give me five dollars in cash. It really shows how cancer has touched every one of us.”

First-time Stow riders were touched by the outpouring of support from volunteers and onlookers, and the constant reminders, all the way from Sturbridge to Provincetown, of those who are battling cancer and those who can proudly say they have won that battle thanks to the efforts of Dana Farber and others. En route to the Saturday lunch break at Rehoboth-Dighton High School, a half-mile stretch of street lined with poster-sized photos of cancer survivors and patients—most of them bald from chemotherapy, many of them children—was particularly moving.

“I looked at the first three or four and I had to look up, because my eyes were full of tears. I just couldn't keep my eyes on that and ride safely,” said Jeff Kimmelman, a first-time rider who raised more than $6000 in pledges. “It was really something.”

Fellow PMC rookie Ruth Kennedy Sudduth, whose husband Andy had hoped to ride in the 2006 PMC before losing his battle with pancreatic cancer, found herself most emotional at the end of the two-day ride. Reaching the top of Corn Hill in Truro, sometimes called the PMC's equivalent of the Boston Marathon's Heartbreak Hill, Sudduth was overcome less by the difficulty of the climb than by the beauty of the view of Provincetown below.

“I actually burst into tears at the top of the hill just thinking about how much Andy would have loved it,” said Sudduth, who has raised $12,000 in pledges.

Nord, a survivor of metastatic melanoma who also lost her mother to metastatic carcinoma, is no stranger to the emotion of the event. Following surgery to remove more than 20 lymph nodes from her leg, the avid mountain biker was told it was unlikely she would ever ride again. Six years and two PMCs later, her doctors say she is an enigma.

“The first year it was really emotional,” she said. “ I spent the entire opening night sobbing. This year I didn't really hit me until we were driving home.”

Chris Spear, riding in his 18th PMC, remembers when Jake, the little boy at the Nickerson water stop, held a sign saying “I am 4 because of you” and handed out buttons to riders with his photo on them.

“This year he handed out Mardi Gras necklaces with a tag reminding us that he is now 11 because of the money raised by the PMC,” said Spear, who raised more than $7000. Spear's annual quest to lead all riders across the finish line on Sunday was thwarted by a flat tire and a loose chain, but he rallied to be among the first 10 finishers nonetheless.

Others found that the ride's most inspirational stories were riding alongside them. First year rider Craig Fifield, who raised more than $6000 with additional money pledged, at one point found himself next to a man who was riding with a prosthetic leg, having lost the lower part of the limb to cancer.

“I asked him how long he'd been riding with the prosthetic leg, and he said this would be his fourth year. I said congratulations, and he said, 'No, thank you for making this possible for me,'” Fifield said. “Here he was riding in this thing and he was thanking me for having made it possible. That was pretty incredible.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239