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Central Mass Native Raises $7,000 for Pan Mass Challenge

Friday, August 03, 2012

 

Phelan with his daughters Elizabeth (left) and Sarah (right). Phelan's family volunteers at the Challenge's water stop in Whitinsville.

There is no doubt that the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) is physically taxing, with rides going as far as 192 miles. Still, one Whitinsville resident says the work before the PMC is even more difficult.

"The physical training and riding are hard, but the fundraising is just as hard," John Phelan said. "That's something I don't think a lot of people realize."

The Pan Mass Challenge is America's first fundraising bike-a-thon, and begins here in Central Mass in the town of Sturbridge. The race generates more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the nation, raising about half of The Jummy Fund's yearly revenue.

The Challenge goes through 43 Commonwealth towns, with cyclists choosing from 10 different routes of varying mileages. The shortest being a one day, 25-mile ride that goes from Wellesley to Sharon, and the longest being a two day, 192-mile ride from Sturbridge all the way to Provincetown.

For Phelan, the Pan Mass Challenge is personal. Phelan lost both his grandmother and father to cancer, so the PMC's mission to raise money for cancer research obviously resonates with him. While fundraising can be a challenge in itself (pun intended), Phelan says you can still have fun doing it.

"My band had a fundraiser... We're called 'Midlife Crisis.' It's an appropriate name," Phelan said with a laugh. "We play a lot of classic rock and blues. Stuff like the Eagles, it's a good time."

Phelan has also received help from a local high school sports team. The Northbridge High School lacrosse team raised over $1,000 for Phelan's ride during last season's "Goal-a-thon." Each player collected money on a per goal basis, and coach Steve Falconer, a friend of Phelan's, says he will keep the tradition going as long as he is the coach at Northbridge.

“It’s something that I think is really important,” Falconer said. “As long as I’m here, we are going to keep doing it. Whether we are undefeated, or totally defeated, this is something that I think makes us winners.”

"What those kids (at Northbridge) did is really inspiring," Phelan said. "They did that totally without being asked, and I just hope they realize that what they're doing actually does make a difference."

All in all, Phelan says he has raised just over $7,000 for the Challenge. Now riding in his third Pan Mass Challenge, Phelan is excited, and more prepared than ever.

"Well, I'm a lot more prepared now than I was three years ago," Phelan said. "I've biked about 1,500 miles heading into this race. That's another thing about it, it's really forced me to get in shape. It's a win-win."

 

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