"It's been a real inspiration and has provided me with extra motivation during training," said Tama in regards to his mother's condition. "I'm sure I'll be thinking of her when I'm on that bike in Massachusetts."
Cycling from Hoboken to Nyack to prepare
To prepare for the race, Tama has been cycling along the Hudson River Waterfront, beginning in Hoboken and driving all the way up to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Nyack, N.Y.
Tama also has began a more balanced diet, replacing a cup of coffee with food in the morning and more protein throughout the day. He said this has resulted in his losing 10 pounds over the last few months.
Since its inception in 1980, the race has contributed over $171 million dollars to the Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund, a charity that raises money for cancer research.
To compete in the race, which begins this coming Saturday, Aug. 4 in the village of Sturbridge, Mass., and ends in Provincetown, each cyclist must raise over $1,000.
To date, Tama has raised $5,000, with the majority of his donations coming from family, friends, and co-workers.
Over 5,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the 28th annual event, which has set a goal of raising $27 million towards adult and pediatric cancer research.
The Pan-Mass Challenge and the cause behind it
The fundraiser began in 1980, with a group of 36 cyclists who raised $10,200 towards cancer research, riding 220 miles throughout the state of Massachusetts.
The event's founder, Billy Starr, an active individual who routinely biked hundreds of miles weekly before beginning the event, lost his mother to melanoma in the 1970s.
One of Pan-Mass' most appealing features to participants is how much of the money gets donated. In 2006, the event was able to raise $26 million, with 99 cents of every dollar donated going to the Jimmy Fund. That made it the largest contributor to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's $1 billion capital campaign, according to PMC spokeswoman Jackie Herskovitz, who added that the rate of fundraising efficiency is nearly unequaled in the athletic fundraising event industry.
This year's race will consist of over 5,000 riders from 36 states and six countries, as well as 2,600 volunteers who will be manning rest and water stops throughout the course.
PMC also offers children, ages 15 and below, the chance to raise money for cancer research through 24 separate bike-a-thons held throughout Massachusetts from May through October. Each event consists of a 26-mile trek. The Jimmy Fund began in 1948 when a 12-year-old cancer patient nicknamed "Jimmy," whose real name was Einer Gustafson, met with baseball players he looked up to during a radio broadcast, generating a flood of donations from people across the country.
In the first year, $200,000 was raised as a result of that broadcast and the charity it created. Gustafson survived cancer and was able to live to the age of 65, before dying of a stroke in 2001.
Since its inception, the fund has raised over $400 million, of which 88 cents of every dollar goes directly toward research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
To make a contribution or take part in the PMC fundraiser, log onto http://www.pmc.org/ or call (781) 449-5300.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com.