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As the 12th annual Westwood Pan Mass Challenge Kids Ride approaches, hundreds of eager young riders will be taking to their bikes in order to raise money for a great cause. Over the past 11 years, the Westwood community alone has raised nearly $600k for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund to help fund life-saving cancer research.
This year’s ride, taking place on Sunday, June 23, from 8:30 - 11:00 a.m. at Martha Jones Elementary, will boast appearances by the Massachusetts Pirates, a Bay State football team that competes in the National Arena League. Players, dance team members and the team mascot AAAARTHUR will be on-hand at the Westwood ride to cheer riders on, sign autographs and pose for photos.
Activities and free samples from brands like Yasso, Unreal Candy and Power Crunch will ensure this year's ride is both interactive and delicious. The event will also feature a live DJ, face painting, and bike decorating.
“We have a great lineup of entertainment this year,” says Sara Mirson, one of this year’s coordinators, “but the greatest impact that the ride has is the money that these kids raise. It’s remarkable how Westwood rallies behind this cause year after year.” With a lofty fundraising goal of $65,000, kids are encouraged to sign-up early to reach the recommended $100 benchmark. Riders that reach $300 are considered “heavy hitters,” $800+ are “breakaway” fundraisers. Each level of fundraising enters riders into a raffle to win prizes like bicycles and sporting event tickets.
Eight-year-old Alexis Cahill of Westwood was one of last year’s PMC Heavy Hitters, and this year is leading the charge for fundraising, with nearly $3,000 in donations so far. “Making a difference makes me feel happy because I know I’m helping other people who are struggling,” says Alexis of her efforts. Alexis will be riding in memory of her Uncle Dave, who she lost to cancer earlier this year.
Alexis’ mother, Denise, is especially proud of her daughter's contributions. “It’s important to our family to support this great cause and help to raise money for cancer research,” says Denise. “The event gives kids the opportunity to learn the importance of giving back.”
Westwood sisters Chloe (10) and Siena (7) Su also plan to participate in this year’s ride. As heavy hitters in the 2018 event, the girls have largely been inspired by their parents. Their mother, Kimmie Ng, is a doctor and researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and specializes in colorectal cancer research. “I have directly seen the impact that donations from events like the Westwood ride have on cancer research and treatment,” says Ng. “I’m proud that my girls are so enthusiastic about this event and the people that are helped through donations.” The girls' father, Henry, a radiologist at South Shore Hospital, participates in the two-day PMC event, a ride that both Siena and Chloe hope to ride in some day.
Each year, the Westwood Ride consistently ranks among the top PMC Kids rides in the state for both rider participation and fundraising (out of 30+ rides). "We are incredibly proud of Westwood’s involvement with the PMC Kids Ride and feel grateful to be part of a town that embraces worthy causes such as this one,” adds Kathryn Morrell, one of this year’s co-coordinators. "We look forward to carrying that momentum into this years event.”
Every dollar raised by riders goes towards life-saving cancer research. The community is encouraged to make an impact and have a great time doing it by signing up to ride, volunteer or make a general donation to this year’s Westwood PMC Kids ride by visiting kids.pmc.org/westwood.