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Cruising for a Cure

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - Every year, the Boston Bruins Foundation's Pan-Mass Challenge bike team makes its two day, 192-mile journey from Sturbridge to Provincetown on Cape Cod, helping to raise funds in the fight against cancer.

For the ninth straight year, their fundraising efforts were supported by a cruise around the Boston Harbor aboard Bay State Cruise Lines’ M/V Provincetown II that raised more than $19,000.

Hundreds of fans gathered on July 22 for the annual Boston Bruins Harbor Cruise, which featured a night of live music from Scott Damgaard, dancing, a chance to meet Bruins alumni and Ice Girls and the opportunity to win auction and raffle items, complete with scenic views of the Boston skyline.

“We got a great turnout this year, this almost doubles the crowd we had last year and obviously, we have a great night here,” said Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, as he looked out at the harbor and the sun setting beyond the outline of the city. “There’s nothing better than cruising the harbor when you have a great night like this.”

“It’s a great night to enjoy the weather, but we also have some great auction items that are going to help all of our fundraising initiatives for our team and we’ve got a great band on. Most importantly, we’re going to have fun.”

The Bruins’ PMC team will ride in the bike-a-thon benefiting the Jimmy Fund on Aug. 1 and 2. The charity event has raised more than $455 million for cancer care and research through its 35 years. It raises more funds than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country.

The cruise has become a staple for the bike team, which had already raised more than $71,000 towards the cause prior to the event.

“We have so many guys now and ladies who have come back year in and year out, and that’s what it takes,” Sweeney said of the team that has about 30 riders.

The former Bruin rode in the PMC for six years, along with fellow Bruins alum Frank Simonetti (1984-88), who will be completing his ninth straight ride in a couple of weeks.

“He’s always committed to it,” said Sweeney. “We have some great people that raise so much money for us, and that’s what it takes. I got involved in this because someone near and dear to me had cancer and I was so glad to be a part of this.”

“This is a wonderful event, because year after year, we see a lot of the same people and then they tell two friends, and then they tell two more and our fanbase is growing each year, so it’s fun to see them reconnect, and it’s just fun to be a part of this event,” said Simonetti.

“It’s a real privilege for me to ride for the team, the Boston Bruins Foundation, and to ride to eradicate cancer. It’s a win-win-win all the way around.”

In 2015, the Boston Bruins Foundation team will be riding for their Pedal Partner, three-year-old Cian Byrne, who battled cancer after treatment at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund Clinic.

“There’s always a story that motivates the team to raise funds. This year, we have CB…He’s our inspiration,” said Simonetti. “Every year, there’s so many people out on the course that motivate us, holding up signs that say ‘we’re here because of you and the money you raised.’”

“I’m of the age now where a lot of people I know are coming out with cancer, and fighting it, and beating it, and I’m just happy that the team and the Bruins Foundation are able to help all of these people.”

To learn more about the Boston Bruins Foundation’s Pan-Mass Challenge team and their stories, visit their main fundraising page and check out BostonBruins.com/foundation.

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