Halifax resident Lauren Kizelewicz will be riding this weekend in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC). PMC.org describes the event as “…an annual bike-a-thon that raises more money for charity than any other event in the country.” Since its founding in 1980, the PMC has donated $654 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Institute. Riders choose from twelve different routes ranging in distance from 25 to 192 miles. Fundraising commitments range from $600 to $8,000. Every dollar raised by the riders goes directly to Dana-Farber.
Kizelewicz, who moved to Halifax last August with her fiancé, will be riding the two-day 192-mile course starting in Sturbridge and ending in Provincetown.
Kizelewicz grew up playing soccer for Brockton High School and currently plays co-ed intramural soccer at the Bridgewater Dome.
While this will be her first time riding the PMC, she has competed in the Falmouth Sprint Triathlon for the last seven years. The biking part of that event is only 10 miles.
“That’s pretty much the most biking I’ve done. I had never done over 20 miles before I just recently started training,” Kizelewicz explained. Kizelewicz, who works as a physical therapist assistant, said that finding time to train can sometimes be a struggle. Despite working full-time, however, she gets in several rides during the week with a longer ride on the weekend (in addition to some cross-training). She has also had to fight back after a recent setback. Kizelewicz, who said she is feeling good now, said, “I had a lapse in training because I had to have surgery but I started training again about three weeks ago.”
Kizelewicz said she was inspired to participate in the PMC by her friend Alicia Gay, who rode the 50-mile route last year. The friends plan to ride the longest route together this year. She was also inspired by another close friend Anthony DeRienzo who was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt Lymphoma a few years ago. DeRienzo is now cancer-free, but his battle left an impression on Kizelewicz. “That’s part of my motivation for riding. It’s just awesome what can be done for people who are going through that. I figured I would help a little bit.”
The PMC hopes to raise $60 million this year through the fundraising efforts of their riders. Kizelewicz and Gay have committed to raising $5,000 each this year and have already exceeded that goal. The friends were able to raise most of that money through a charity golf tournament they organized and held at River Bend Country Club in West Bridgewater this past June. Kizelewicz said they had about 20 teams golfing as well as several family members and friends that attended the catered event following the tournament. Several businesses sponsored holes at the “Riding for a cure Pan-Mass charity golf tournament” including Monstah Customs, Dellbrook JKS, Mutual Bank, Jeef Berkey, The Woodlands, Granite City, and Wells Landscaping Inc. In addition to those sponsors, several businesses including the Boston Red Sox and Massage Envy donated to the raffles that were held during the tournament. Kizelewicz said, “The golf tournament was a lot easier than we anticipated and everyone had a blast.” In addition to the money raised at the golf tournament, she also received donations through posts on her personal Facebook page as well as notices hung up at her work. Riders are given through October to meet or exceed their fundraising goals. Kizelewicz’s profile page can be found at http://pmc.org/LK0162 and her donation page can be found at https://donate.pmc.org/LK0162.
Logistically, the start is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. from Sturbridge Host Hotel. From there, Kizelewicz, Gay and others doing the two-day challenge will bike about 109 miles to Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne. Riders have the option to stay in the dorms or find other accommodations. The finish for the longest route will be at Provincetown Monument on Sunday where family and friends are invited to join the finishers for a party.
Asked what advice she would give to future riders, Kizelewicz said, “In terms of training, I would say make sure you get in a couple of long rides of at least 50 miles before you enter into the race day. In terms of fundraising, try to do something that people will have fun at.”
She plans to ride the PMC again next year but with a wedding on the horizon, she says it is a decision that will best be made after this weekend.