Sunday, February 22, 2009

Team Luca Rides the Pan-Mass Challenge (or, Help Me Raise $4,200 to Fight Cancer)

This coming August 1st and 2nd, I will once again join the other 19 members of Team Luca in riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a 200 mile, two-day bicycle ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown. The PMC, which celebrates it’s 30th anniversary this year, raises money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Team Luca was formed three ago by Jeff De Lisi in honor of his son, Luca, who died at the age of three after a courageous fight against Medulloblastoma, a pediatric brain tumor. We ride to honor Luca, and in hopes that other kids don’t have to go through what he did.

Because of the generous donations from individuals, Team Luca raised over $90,000 in 2008! All money raised by Team Luca will be used toward research for pediatric brain tumors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The PMC raises more money for charity than any other single event in the country. For 2009, every rider must commit to raise a minimum of $4200. This year’s goal for the PMC is to raise $36 million to help fund much needed research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

There is no question that we live in uncertain economic times, and I struggled with whether I could actually call on my family, friends, and local businesses once again to help me raise such a large sum of money. In fact, I almost did not register to ride this year, but I knew it was something that had to be done. In the end, I decided that, for me, nothing is worse than complacency, and that given our country’s current financial situation, the need is even greater this year. Hospitals such as Dana-Farber are surely feeling the stress of budget cuts and loss of valuable donor money. Cancer does not care that we may be in a recession. Our temporary burden pales in comparison to the anguish cancer inflicts on so many lives. I have known a few people who have had cancer, and it isn't an easy road, but it is a battle we can win. This became very clear to me while riding the PMC last August. As we passed through town after town, many families and people stood alongside the road, holding signs thanking us for riding and raising money. Nobody said congratulations when we passed, instead we heard "thank you" over and over, and they meant it. One sign that stuck with me for many miles was held by a young boy, standing alone, and it simply read, "I turned 12 this year because of the PMC". It doesn't get any more real than that. Luca never got to celebrate his fourth birthday.

How can you help?
There are three easy ways to donate money to the PMC and support me in my fundraising goal:
1. Visit the Luca’s Light website, to learn more about Luca De Lisi and Team Luca. While visiting the site I encourage you to watch the video, “Why We Ride”, which introduces Luca, the riders of Team Luca, and explains why we ride in his honor. From the site you can make a donation by clicking on my name in the right hand column.
2. Go to the Pan Mass Challenge website. Click the eGift link at the top left hand corner of the site to get started. You can find my profile and make a donation by entering my eGift ID (JH0303), or my first and last name. The average eGift donation takes less than five minutes of your time.
3. For those of you whom wish to donate, but do not want to donate online, you can mail a personal check directly to me. Checks may be made payable to Pan-Mass Challenge, The Jimmy Fund, or DFCI.

Unlike generic Jimmy Fund donations, 100% of contributions to Team Luca benefit the innovative pediatric brain tumor research conducted by Dr. Mark Kieran's Pediatric Medical Oncology team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Regardless of how you give, I encourage you to visit Luca’s Light website, and watch the video and read the message from Jeff. It is a powerful piece that will undoubtedly touch your heart. Despite these difficult times, I know I made the right decision to register with the PMC. We all have causes that are close to our hearts. This one is mine. Whether you can donate $200 or $20, please know every penny you contribute will be used to help beat this awful disease, while at the same time honoring the spirit of little Luca De Lisi.

Thank you for your support!

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