Pan-Mass Challenge Continues to Set Records, Raising $51M

November 14, 2017 — The Pan-Mass Challenge, a Needham nonprofit that hosts an annual, two-day bike-a-thon to generate funds for cancer care and research, the country’s largest athletic fundraising event, on Saturday announced that this year's event raised a record-setting $51 million, beating its goal by $3 million.

Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), said, “The PMC community’s unwavering commitment to one day eradicating cancer blows me away year after year. Records are truly made to be broken, and I am humbled by the support of our riders, sponsors, volunteers and donors that worked tirelessly this year to help us exceed our fundraising goal by not one, not two, but $3 million."

The funds will support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and constitute 52% of funds raised by the Jimmy Fund, which raises money to support research at Dana-Farber Cancer.

The organization noted that threats to federal funding from the National Institutes of Health increase the importance of generating funds from alternative sources for Dana-Farber and other research and treatment centers.

“I am continuously impressed with and honored to be a part of the PMC family. Every year the participants push the limits of their fundraising efforts on behalf of our caregivers, our patients, and their families,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, president, and CEO of Dana-Farber. “We are especially thankful for this year’s monumental $51 million gift which is essential to Dana-Farber’s ongoing work.”

The PMC has steadily increased the amount it has raised for Dana-Farber. Last year it raised $47 million, up from $46 million in 2016, $45 million in 2015, and $41 million in 2014 – each year setting a record.

This year, 6,200 cyclists from 40 states and seven countries, ranging in age from 15 to 84, on Aug. 5 and 6 participated in one of 12 routes stretching from 25 to 192 miles across Massachusetts. The average PMC cyclist is 45 years old, trains for three months, solicits 40 sponsors, and raises more than $7,000.

PMC said 4,000 volunteers donate their time to support the organization throughout the year and during the weekend of the event.

Unlike other athletic fundraisers, the PMC requires that its participants commit to raising between $500 and $7,800. In addition, cyclists pay a registration fee ranging from $125 to $250. Cyclists had an Oct. 1 deadline to complete their fundraising. Those who did not meet their commitments had their credit card debited for the balance.

Starr attributes much of the PMC's success to the fact that donors give to friends who solicit them, as opposed to giving to an organization, although all funds raised by riders go to Dana-Farber.

Sponsors support administrative expenses and race logistics. Lead sponsors this year were New Balance and the Red Sox Foundation. Another 200 companies provided more than $7 million in goods and services.

The PMC was started in 1980 when Starr and 35 friends rode across Massachusetts and raised $10,200 for cancer research as part of an effort to commemorate Starr’s mother, who died of skin cancer in 1974. It is recognized as the pioneering event that connects athleticism to charitable fundraising.

To date, the PMC has raised $598 million.