The Challenge of a Lifetime

Posted by on Jul 26, 2011 in ,

Billy Star

“To reap the rewards you have to do the work” says Billy Star, a man whose athletic ability brought him accomplishments including a 400 mile hike through the Appalachian Trail. Though Starr has his fair shares of athletic achievements, it is his involvement with the Pan- Mass Challenge that most know him by. At 49 years old, Billy’s mother Betty had lost her battle against melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Shortly after her passing, Billy and a few friends packed their bags and headed out for their hike through the Appalachian Trail knowing that the feat was not a simple one to complete.  Through the unexpected adventures of their travel, Billy was the only one who continued onward to complete the goal he had first set out for himself. He credits this time for giving him a better understanding of the mental, physically and emotional strength that many use in a time of need. The more that he challenged his physical ability the more his confidence in himself began to grow, providing a natural well being that he hadn’t quite experienced before. With this mentality and the momentum of pushing his body to its limits, Billy rallied with a few other like minded people in 1980 and planned that they would ride their bikes from Springfield Ma to Provincetown, a 220 mile bike ride. The idea of leading others through this journey was not the only driving force for this bike ride, they wanted to bring a greater meaning. The bicyclists had joined together to raise funds to be donated to The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a famous cancer research center focused on studying and researching how to end the fight against cancer that many of us have unfortunately been a witness to. This being his first real attempt at a group bike ride of this size, about 36 riders in total, Starr’s main objective was to keep the group intact until the finish. What he would discover was that not only did each rider finish with the support of the other riders, but that this group of people had raised over $10,000 for the Dana Farber Institute. With the substantial amount raised from donations, Starr informed Dana Farber that each year he would continue to increase the donation amount and so the Pan-Mass Challenge was created.

The Pan-Mass Challenge still holds true to their overall mission, to raise awareness and funds in the aid of research to end the battle against cancer. This weekend long event invites anyone looking for a physical and mental journey to help raise funds and awareness in the fight for a cure for cancer. The PMC explains that they ride because “it is a way to channel physical, mental and emotional energy into something much greater”. They also go on to add that “PMC cyclists use their strength to help those who cannot. With each mile pedaled, the PMC brings researchers closer to finding cures for various types of cancer”.

Since their first ride in 1980, PMC has contributed $303 million to The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and they intend to continue to add to that number as long as there are people willing to participate. The PMC riders will take off on Saturday, August 6th for their full two day long ride and are expected to finish on Sunday August 7th. At Ross Insurance, we do know of two riders who will be participating this year, Alan Turner and Ryan Mahan. Though both originate from completely different backgrounds, Ryan and Alan both share the drive to fight for a cure against cancer. (To take a look at each of their stories click here for Alan and click here for Ryan.)


Taking on the task of completing the Pan Mass Challenge is certainly one that requires dedication, motivation and perseverance. Though the PMC welcomes riders of all physical types, they do encourage that riders take the necessary steps to prepare themselves through training in order to complete the ride. For those looking to take on the challenge of biking for 220 miles, or are just looking to do something much bigger than just yourself, the Pan-Mass Challenge is always looking for new riders and volunteers. For more information visit the Pan Mass Challenge website .

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