Pan-Mass Challenge Sets New Record by Raising $56M

November 8, 2018 — The Pan-Mass Challenge, a Needham nonprofit that raised $10,200 when it launched an annual bike-a-thon fundraiser in 1980, this week announced that this year's two-day event raised $56 million, exceeding its goal by $4 million to set a new record for the country’s largest athletic fundraising event.

Last year the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) raised $51 million, which was $3 million over the goal for the 2017 event.

Funds raised by the PMC support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, accounting for 54% of the amount raised annually by the Jimmy Fund to support research at Dana-Farber.

Laurie H. Glimcher, president and CEO of Dana-Farber, said, "We’re particularly grateful for this year’s astounding $56 million gift which is vital to our ongoing work."

The PMC continues to lead the a-thon industry it pioneered, with this year’s gift more than doubling dollars raised by the next largest cycling event.

"The impact of the PMC community is truly unparalleled. The magnitude of a $56 million gift raised by 10,000 PMC riders and volunteers is obvious to anyone who funds cancer research," said Billy Starr, PMC founder and executive director. "For 39 years, we’ve increased our fundraising goals and each year the dedication of an ever-expanding PMC family exceeds even our highest expectations."

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.

A total of 6,400 riders, ranging in age from 13 to 85, participated in this year's event on Aug. 4 and 5. Designed to appeal to all levels of cycling and fundraising abilities, the PMC offered riders the choice of 12 routes of varying distance, ranging from 25 miles to a two-day 192-mile ride. Last year, the event attracted 6,200 riders.

Many participants rode in honor of a family member or friend lost to, or being treated for, cancer. More than 900 PMC riders and volunteers are cancer survivors or current patients.

All funds raised through the event go to Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. Sponsors, including New Balance and the Red Sox Foundation, along with more than 200 companies, support the event by providing more than $7 million in goods and services each year.

Key to the PMC's success is that it requires participants to commit to raising between $600 and $8,000, depending on the distance they planned to cycle and whether they were cycling for one or two days, an increase from the $500 to $7,800 range last year.

In addition, cyclists pay a registration fee ranging from $125 to $250, depending on age. Cyclists had until Oct. 1 to complete their fundraising. Those who did not meet their commitments had their credit card debited for the balance.

The PMC began in 1980 when Starr and 35 of his friends rode across Massachusetts and raised $10,200 for cancer research. It is recognized as the pioneering event that connected athleticism to charitable fundraising. Today, athletic fundraising events annually raise more than $4 billion, funding crucial programs at health and human service organizations nationwide.

To date, the PMC has raised $654 million for Dana-Farber.