Berlin's Rich Crowe's only memories of riding a bike before three years ago was when he was a young child and used to deliver newspapers.
When his wife Sandy was going through treatments for leukemia at Dana Farber Institute, Rich saw some information on the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), a 192-mile bike ride fundraiser and thought it was interesting.
He started riding a bike three years ago in April and in August participated in his first PMC.
"I had never done anything like this," said Crowe, head golf professional at Rockledge Golf Club in West Hartford. "I figured I would first do the 85-mile course and see how that went. Then I found out there was another loop on the Cape that was 135 miles and I thought maybe I could do that. Sandy and I had dinner one night with Billy Starr, the Executive Director of the PMC and he told me I had to do the whole race but I wasn't too sure."
Crowe finished all 185 miles that first year and has completed it every year, including this past weekend along with 5,400 other riders, from Sturbridge to Provincetown on the Cape.
This year he has raised more than $18,000 and over the past three years more than $52,000.
Under Billy Starr's direction, the PMC has grown considerably and consistently from its modest beginnings into an event that draws 5,500 cyclists from 36 states and eight countries. Today, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country. The PMC generates half of the Jimmy Fund's annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber's single largest contributor. Over the past 32 years, PMC cyclists have ridden to raise and contribute $338 million to cancer research.
"Last year, Sandy passed away two weeks before the ride," Crowe said of his late wife, who made a huge impact in Berlin, especially with young people and UpBeat. "I was very fortunate to have the support of the Berlin community, a great family, my church, Sacred Heart and Rockledge and the golfing community."
Crowe spent 10 hours and nine minutes on the bike seat this year to cover the 194 miles.
"There is a lot of time to think when you're on the bike and, of course, I think about Sandy and the kids, but I also think about how I have the easy job," Crowe said. "All I have to do is ride this bike for a number of hours. The tough job is the people that have to go through chemotherapy or other treatments. They have the tough job."
Crowe said his experience with Dana Farber and the PMC makes this an event he will always stay involved with.
"I am a proud supporter of the PMC because it is leading the campaign to beat cancer," Crowe said on his home page. "In fact, last year, 100 percent of rider-raised revenue went directly to support the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s tireless commitment to finding a cure."
Five years ago, his wife Sandy was diagnosed with Leukemia thus starting the family's journey. She received a stem cell transplant from her sister, Terry.
"Thanks to Dr. Corey Cutler and the incredible staff at Dana Farber, Sandy was able to enjoy some very special moments over the past four plus years with her family and friends," Crowe said.
"I invite you to spend a moment and watch a documentary in which Sandy was involved with. It was produced by the Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Hospital. It tells the story of stem cell transplant research and the tremendous progress going on in this field here. "
Crowe can still receive donations to reach his goal of $20,000. To donate, go here.