BOSTON – “I kind of look at it as paying back the debt I had taken from it.”
Those were the words of Chris Leonard, who won his battle with cancer 13 years ago. After his fight, he immediately began seeking a route to help others embarking on the same journey. Fast-forward to today, where Leonard is heading out on his 13th Pan-Mass Challenge this year representing the Boston Bruins Foundation.
“My wife rode first, actually the year I was sick, and then, the following year, I rode with her, and we’ve been riding ever since,” said Leonard.
The Pan-Mass Challenge is a 192-mile bike ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, Mass. held annually to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since it’s inception in 1980, the Pan-Mass Challenge has raised over $500 million to aid the fight against cancer. Thousands of riders will take to the streets on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-7, in order to maintain this momentum.
Leonard’s story is one of the many harrowing and inspiring accounts circulating around the Boston Bruins Foundation’s Pan-Mass Challenge team.
The Boston Bruins Foundation will participate in their 11th Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend. Between individual donations and the Boston Bruins Harbor Cruise, the team has raised an estimated $180,000 so far this year. Fundraising will continue through Oct. 1.
Michael Strock, a seven-year Bruins season ticket holder, along with his wife, Heather, are representing the Boston Bruins Foundation in their first Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend in honor of a special person.
“My father actually passed away last December and that motivated us to get [ourselves] in gear and do something to give back to all the people out there in similar situations that are fighting and aren’t able to ride,” said Michael.
The couple, through hardship, has relied on each other through thick and thin. They now turn towards each other once more to conquer the ride around the Massachusetts panhandle.
“I don’t know if we would have been able to motivate each other as much if we both weren’t doing it,” said Heather. “You know, you’re really tired, it’s Friday night, you say, let’s just go out and do 40 miles. Which, a lot of times, is just, let’s just stay on the couch and go to bed. But, for us, it was really important to push each other.”
While Bruins fans and season-ticket holders enjoy their summer, the staff is hard at work to put together a successful 2016-17 campaign.
Boston Bruins Creative Marketing & Game Presentation Manager, Renee Riva, is taking time out of her busy offseason schedule to represent the team and foundation.
“Riding with the Spoked-B is awesome,” said Riva. “Last year, so many people along the racecourse were clapping, saying, ‘Let’s go Bruins!’ It was awesome, it was great to feed of off that energy and everyone else around you.”
Needless to say, Renee and the Bruins team are prepared and excited to conquer their anticipated ride and represent the team with the same blue-collar mentality they exhibit on the ice.
“I’m very excited. I’m ready for the weekend,” said Riva. “Been preparing for the past couple of months, training hard. And, it’s finally here and I’m ready to go…”
Follow the riders as they make 192-mile journey for #PMC2016 with photos posted to Twitter and Instagram @NHLBruins throughout the weekend.
To learn more about the Boston Bruins Foundation and show your support, check out BostonBruins.com/foundation.