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Tewksbury PMC Cyclists Share Their Reasons For Riding

This is the second in a series profiling Tewksbury residents who are committed to raising money to find a cure for cancer by riding in the Pan Mass Challenge.

Thirteen cyclists from Tewksbury are partcipating in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) August 4-5 for various reasons ranging from being a survivor to a family member who has or had cancer to supporting a friend or whose family member had cancer.

Veterans or first-timers, all of the cyclists are doing this because 100 percent of the monies go the Dana Farber Institute.

Anyone interested in donating to a rider or to the PMC can go on the website and type in the rider's name.

These are their profiles:

Rick DiFronzo

Age: 47

Residence: Has lived in Tewksbury for 20 years

Route: 192 miles over two days from Sturbridge to Provincetown

Training: Rick rides every weekend through Tewksbury, Andover, North Andover, and continues eastward as far as Ipswich. Sometimes his rides take him through Billerica and Chelmsford and go as far west as Lunenburg.

Goal: Originally was $6000, surpassed it and raised it to $8000.

Already Raised: $6700

Team: John Hancock

Fundraising Techniques: Local fundraisers and private donations

Story:

Rick is riding in memory of his daughter Lia, who at age 8, lost her battle with a rare from of Leukemia in 2008. This is his fourth year participating in the PMC.

During Lia’s two and one half years battle with the disease, she was paired as a PMC Pedal Partner with the John Hancock team, he said.

“Working for John Hancock, I got to see firsthand how the riders and patients provide inspiration and support to each other. I also received overwhelming support from co-workers as they followed Lia’s progress and felt a special connection with her,” he explained.

He said that it left lasting impressions of the impact others can make as they support those who have cancer and their families. 

After Lia died, he said he decided to join to team and give back to those who are still battling the disease by raising funds for cancer research.

“My hope is that other kids won’t have to suffer as Lia did.”

The third annual Family Fun Event celebrating Lia DiFronzo's life will be held Thursday, July 26, 7-11 at the Proceeds will benefit the Dana Farber Institute Jimmy Fund. See on last year's event.

Greg Statis

Age: 46

Residence: Has lived in Tewksbury his whole life.

Route: 170 miles over two days from Wellesley to Provincetown

Training: Six years ago, Greg took on bike riding as a form of cross trainingGreg bikes all over the Northeast, from Tewksbury to Portsmouth NH. Most of the time he bikes by himself because he enjoys the time to clear his head and think things out.

Goal: $7,000

Already Raised: $3500

Team: ROAR- Reindeers On A Ride

Fundraising Techniques:  Generous friends and vendors in the Precast Industry.

Story:

Greg said he had always done bike rides for other fundraisers  He said he always wanted to ride in the PMC because it was a great cause, but thought it would be difficult to raise the required minimum.

Then four years ago, the daughter of a co-worker (and friend) was diagnosed with leukemia. Today, she is doing better, he said.

This will be now Greg’s fourth year riding in the PMC.

Reaching out to his vendors, he said, “I found I can reach my goal without too much difficulty.” He explained that everyone knows someone who is battling cancer.

Some of the money his team raises goes toward a Christmas Party for the children at Dana Farber, he said.

Greg said the PMC is the best and most organized event in which he has participated, and he was amazed that there were 5000 riders and 2000 volunteers last year. 

Bill Ryan

Age: 42

Residence: Has lived in Tewksbury for the past 6 years, grew up in Everett.

Route: 184 miles from Wellesley to Provincetown

Training: Bill spins a couple of times a week at a local studio in Wilmington called Body Infusion. The studio recently held a spin-a-thon to raise money for the PMC.

Goal: $4300, group goal is $20,600

Team:  No formal team, but rides with relatives Billy and Rory Doherty

Already Raised: $685 toward $4300

Fundraising Techniques: Bill, along with the Dohertys held their 2nd golf tournament, “Putting for Pan Mass” on May 18.

Story:

This will be Bill’s 6th year cycling in the PMC. He explained, “I have lost a lot of family and friends to cancer."

He said that the PMC is a great event, and that all the money goes to cancer research. After this year Bill will have raised over $20,000 since 2008.

“I just want to do my part to help, so someday they can find the cure,” he said. 

Charlie Silva

Age: 50

Residence: Has lived here for 30 years, originally from Lexington

Route: 192 miles over two days from Sturbridge to Provincetown

Training: Charlie likes to spin at home without AC to simulate riding in the heat. He also cycles solo from Truro to Provincetown twice, a total of 60 miles.

Goal: $20,000

Already Raised: $4300

Team: Wilson Farm

Fundraising Techniques:  As part owner of Silva Brothers a family construction business, he has asked his sub contractors for donations.

Story:

Two years ago, Charlie’s best friend’s father passed away from cancer. Enjoying physical undertakings, he and his friend decided to accept the Pan-Mass Challenge.

This year they joined Team Wilson.

When asked why his goal was $20,000, he said he raised $22,400 plus the minimum in 2010. "I believe in setting my goals high because if you do and you fall a little short, it's still a lot of money."

He described the cancer survivors along the end of the route with their signs of “Thank you.”

Recalling one of the signs, held by a teenage boy, that said, ‘I am 14 years old because of you.' " I got choked up, and I will never forget it," he explained.

John Stadtman

Age: 35

Residence: Has lived 11 years in Tewksbury

Route: 25 miles from Wellesley to Foxboro

Training:  John tries to get out at least twice a week and ride the Bruce Freeman Trail. He also rides in the New Hampshire Mountains and has started to ride to work.

Goal: $1500

Already Raised: $410

Fundraising Techniques: Annual letter to friends

Story:

John said he is riding for the people in his family and friends' lives that are battling and have battled cancer. “Every time I turn around it seems that more and more people are being affected. This just one way I hope to help,” he explained.

This is his first ride in the PMC and he said he is riding solo.  “I figure if the people I know have been touched by cancer, fought and survive, I sure as heck can raise money for a cure."

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