Holliston Residents Ride In PMC
By Susan Manning
The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is a bike-a-thon that today raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country. The PMC pioneered the $5 billion athletic fundraising industry and donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to adult and pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute..
There are 16 Holliston residents participating:
• Darryl Abbey
• Richard Boylan
• Matt Buckley
• Michael Cote
• John Denman
• Bud Dodge
• Paul Gillespie
• Brendan Hines
• Jimmy Hunter
• Nicole Inkpen
• Justin McManus
• Kevin O’Connell
• Joanne O’Connell
• Joey Pirelli
• Cameron Rockett
• Stephanie Vail
For Vail, this journey toward a cure is not a new one. Her son, Declan, was three when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“He really doesn’t know any other life. He does know he is different in someway, and he knows that he is a strong little man,“ said Vail.
She said he suffers from seizures and has had to miss school here in there.
“He has been upset to miss field, trips or field day, but we always make sure to allow him to do all the things that little kids should experience,“ said Vail.
Having gone through so much at such a young age, how does Declan’s family keep his spirits up?
“We don’t have to keep Declan’s spirits up. He does the opposite and keeps our spirits up. He is fierce and his grit shines through with everything he puts his mind to. His smile can light up a room. Even on the hard days, he is always the one to ask if you need a hug,” said his mother, a nurse herself at Dana-Farber.
She doesn’t have to look far for motivation to continue her PMC journey. Last year, she said, Declan couldn’t hold himself up on a bicycle.
“This year he rode 6 miles on his own at the kids, PMC in Natick,” she said.
This effort, she said, is not a one-person experience.
“As a family, we all do our part to help the PMC raise money for a cure. We ride, we volunteer, we advocate. One wheel rotation at a time, we will beat this,” she said.
For Kevin and Joanne O’Connell, the PMC journey is equally personal.
Their son, Tim was 8 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. despite 16 months of chemotherapy and other treatments, he died two days after he turned 10.
For Joanne, who had always been a recreational runner, running in the Boston, Marathon and the PMC seemed like a natural fit to raise awareness around cancer.
“When our son Tim died of cancer, and I saw that by getting a charity bib and running in the Boston Marathon, and by signing up for and riding in the PMC, I could raise awareness of the fact that there are not yet cures for his and many pediatric cancers, Andrea’s funds, I figured I’d try to do both so long, as I was physically able,” she said.
What’s the most challenging part of the PMC for Joanne?
“The heat, usually. It’s an August event and summers have been brutal. But the crowds and the volunteers and our fellow riders make it tolerable.
What’s the most challenging part of the PMC?
The heat, usually. It’s an August event, and some years have been brutal. But the crowds and the volunteers and our fellow riders make it tolerable. … It’s a challenge, not a race, so I pace myself, stay on plan, and try to enjoy the views, the vibe, and the company of my fellow riders,” Joanne said.
How does she stay motivated?
“That’s easy. I’ll stay motivated at least so long as a cure for cancer remains to be found. I think of my son Tim every mile of every run or ride I take, and I feel he is with me throughout every training run or ride,” she said.
PMC 2023 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6, with riders choosing from 16 different one and two-day routes varying in distance from 25 to 211 miles.
To donate, visit
donate.pmc.org and search by name.