By Julie Huss
---- — Local cyclists will once again make a big showing at this year’s Pan-Massachusetts Challenge bike ride.
The benefit ride, now in its 33rd year, is set for Aug. 4 and 5, and is the nation’s largest charity bike-a-thon raising more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the nation.
More than 5,000 cyclists including many from the Greater Derry/Londonderry area will take to the streets to help with the goal of raising $36 million. It’s all to support adult and pediatric cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.
For the Galluzzo family of Londonderry, it’s a way to help others while sharing great times together.
Six family members will participate in the ride again this year.
Three Galluzzo brothers, Anthony, Matt and Mike, will make the ride again to honor their father Tony and his brother, Joe. Both men were diagnosed years ago with a rare nasopharyngeal cancer.
John Galluzzo was the first to ride in the PMC in 1992.
Since then, he said, the family has participated in one form or another to honor those within the family who have beat cancer, and also the families and individuals they have met through the years along the PMC route.
“Each year, you get to know more and more people stricken with cancer,” Galluzzo said. “You also see many saved. These are some of the nice positives.”
Pan-Mass riders range in age from 13 to 88. Many are seasoned athletes; some are weekend bike warriors only training for this event.
Cyclists choose from 11 routes of varying mileage, catering to all levels of cycling ability. There are six two-day routes, ranging from 153 to 190 miles, and also five one-day rides ranging from 25 to 110 miles.
“The PMC is the gold standard of athletic fundraising events,” Pan-Massachusetts Challenge founder and director Billy Starr said. “(Cyclists) are committed to raising money for cancer research as they are pedaling the miles. PMC cyclists are all heart and soul.”
That soul comes through loud and clear for one Derry cyclist.
Scott Davidson rides for the first time this weekend, honoring an uncle and eight close friends who battled the disease.
“I was thinking about doing it for a couple of years,” Davidson said.
When his family daycare provider’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3, Davidson decided it was time to ride.
“You just feel helpless,” Davidson said.
To prepare, he rides several times during the week and then pedals more miles over the weekend.
The Pan-Mass Challenge gives 100 percent of every dollar riders raise directly to the Jimmy Fund.
Last year, the event raised $35 million.
In addition to the Galluzzo family and Davidson, other local riders include Julie Boyle, Shanon Gruchot, Kelly Hamilton, Tom Hilse, Beth Ann Roberts, Michael Roberts, Stacie Street, Steve Street, Julia Wasserman, and Peter Wasserman, all of Londonderry; and Laura Charewicz of Derry.
To learn more about the Pan Mass Challenge, visit pmc.org