Pan-Mass Challenge to go virtual for cancer research

BOSTON (AP) — The Pan-Mass Challenge is going virtual in the hopes that it can continue to raise money for cancer research.

Organizers say they hope the “Reimagined PMC” will continue the spirit of the event, in which thousands of cyclist travel across the state for the nation’s largest single event athletic fundraiser.

This year’s event was scheduled to include around 7,000 riders on 12 different routes covering from 25 to 192 miles. Instead, participants will be encouraged to ride however they can on their own. There will be a virtual starting line and reimagined opening ceremonies, along with virtual versions of other features that riders have become used to.

Last year, the PMC raised $63 million for cancer research and care. In all, it has raised $717 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund since founder Billy Starr and a few friends first rode to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod on a lark in 1977.

“While we’re unable to move forward with our ride safely in the same way we have over the past 40 years, we cannot and will not let our community or Dana-Farber down,” Starr said. “Our mission to support Dana-Farber in the fight against cancer is more important than ever. And in reimagining what our event can be, we hope to inspire even more participation from those joining us at home.”

In connection with the announcement on Friday, the PMC said it was releasing $4 million in donations already received to the Dana-Farber COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.