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Pan Mass Challenge 2008

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

Back row (l to r): Bob Sweeney, John Reichenbach, Charlie Reichenbach, Rob Simpson, Lyndon Byers, John Chin and William Weiler.Middle row: Mike Maguire, Bill Barden, James St. Germain, Tyler Munroe, Chris Karras, Rick Middleton, Gary Doak, Abby Lincoln, Kim Jacobs, Lauren Lambert, Joan Jacobs, Tim Sweeney, Jay Southwood, Dan Zimmer and John Hayes. Front row: Deb McNamara, Don Sweeney, Frank Simonetti, Jerry Jacobs, Brian Hayes, Susan Hayes, Judie Songin, Terry O'Reilly and Shawn McEachern. (Photo: Edith Weiler)

Former Bruins Bob Sweeney and Rick Middleton.
Boston, MA -- On Friday, August 1st, the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team gathered in the players’ parking lot at TD Banknorth Garden to prepare for the quick trip – by van – to Sturbridge, Massachusetts and the start line of the Pan Mass Challenge or PMC.

For the third year, the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team rode against cancer in the PMC.

After raising $165,000 last year for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, this year's squad consists of former Bruins Lyndon Byers, Gary Doak, Shawn McEachern, Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly, Frank Simonetti, Bob Sweeney, Don Sweeney, and Tim Sweeney, as well as Kim Jacobs, wife of Bruins Executive Vice President Charlie Jacobs, Bruins Vice President of Business Operations Dan Zimmer, and other B's staff, friends and alumni. was in the parking lot on Friday (thanks to media relations intern Erica Richey) and canvassed the Black & Gold alumni and asked about their participation in this very worthwhile event.

Click here if you want some more information on the PMC and its routes.

Bob Sweeney
Bob Sweeney, Director of Development, Boston Bruins Foundation
“Yeah.  You get out here, we did a big training ride last Sunday at Terry’s house – a nice long ride as kind of the last preparation for Saturday.  We had a good group that turned out for that, so we’re ready to go for the next two days, have a little fun, and raise a lot of money…This is my third year.  It’s a great event.  The teams get bigger every year, which is a good sign that we’re creating a lot of awareness and raising a lot of money…It’s great.  We ride in different packs.  We have some riders who are far superior than a lot of guys like myself.  Don Sweeney, a really avid rider, he goes (out hard) and he can ride with the best of them.  We have a lot of guys who are kind of middle of the pack that ride in small little groups and I think that’s the best way to go -- at your own pace. For most of us it’s a ride, it’s not a race, and we have a lot of fun doing it.”

Don Sweeney
Don Sweeney, Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development,
(On his reputation as an excellent cyclist) “I don’t know about that!  I’m still fairly new and you if go out with all the (experienced) guys that (experience) will humble you in a heartbeat.  You’ll always find somebody that’s in better shape than you are, so it’s a good challenge.  I ride with a good group of guys in Lynnfield, and we have a blast, and just go out to enjoy the whole experience of PMC…This is my third year.  You’re dead on that it’s a tremendous cause.  I’ve been hearing stories every year that inspire you left and right.  I went over to visit Dana Farber the other day and these kids, the strength that they have, you’ve got to find a cure.  (We want) to contribute some little iota, and hopefully by being a part of this we help a little bit.”

Terry O'Reilly
Terry O’Reilly, Bruins Legend
“I’m excited.  I’m hoping for good weather, that’s all.  If it’s rainy it makes it very difficult because we’re going to ride anyway…I’ve been training enough to survive the ride, (but) it’s not a race for me.  To be able to finish the 290 miles and raise the money, that’s the objective really…It’s a great cause and you’ll find, as you get older, everybody’s touched by cancer – a family member, a friend, - it just touches so many lives, and it’s a cause that everybody can come together with and hopefully do something about.”

Rick Middleton, President, Boston Bruins Alumni
“I’m excited, but I don’t know if I’m ready to go (laughing).  I don’t train a lot for it, and I ride a recumbent, and it’s not a really cardiovascular thing.  I figure, it’s going to hurt a lot anyways, so why hurt more?  I rode 70 miles last weekend and I found out that my seat’s too far away from my pedals because my knees were killing me, so I have to move my seat up.  That’s the
Rick Middleton
best thing to come out of that ride.  I think by (Saturday) I should be ready to go, at least I hope so…It’s fun!  This is totally different.  I’ve never been a bike rider, per se, never joined a bike club as a kid, so it’s been a long time.  When I did this last year for the first time, it was a real challenge.  Anytime you do something for the first time, it’s a challenge.  That’s why they call it a challenge!  I made it and I was pretty proud of myself that I made it, but I’m really not looking forward to doing it again!  But I am doing it again this year…I don’t know of anybody, especially the older you get, that doesn’t know somebody that’s affected by cancer.  You hear it on the newspapers and TV all the time.  It’s a real epidemic and we need all the money that we can get, and give it to these people to find out how to stop it. There are just so many different types of it; there are so many therapies.  They’ve come a long way, the lifespan has increased in a lot of different ways with different cancers, and that’s directly due to fundraising – money going in, and them having the money to use to find cures.  So, I am happy to be able to just be a little part of it.”

Shawn McEachern
Shawn McEachern, Former Boston Bruin & BU Terrier
“I’ve been training a bit, not really hard.  Not like (Don) Sweens (Sweeney), probably!  But I got enough rides in and hopefully it’ll be fine…This is my 3rd year doing it with the Bruins team.  It’s a great cause, a great event, and every year you look forward to it.  You dread the training rides but you look forward to this event.  It’s a lot of fun and we have a great group of people doing it for the Bruins cause, and it’s been a lot of fun…It’s a lot of fun, especially because it’s guys from all different eras, and it seems like every year we add one more guy that played.  Tim Sweeney’s coming along this year, and I don’t want to put any pressure on Steve Leach, but I hear he’s coming the year after, next year, but it’s a lot of fun having guys join up.”

Via cell and text and word of mouth, kept tabs on the riders as they made their way through Massachusetts. JB

Getting ready on Day 1. Photo: Edith Weiler
Saturday, August 2nd
We’ve already gotten some updates from Southern Massachusetts where several of the Bruins team members are more than halfway done with the Saturday portion of the PMC.

The weather remains clear and everyone seems to be in a great mood.

11:24 a.m.
Bruins staffer Brian Hayes checks in from Lakeville with the news that 80 miles are done. Unfortunately, Brian had been riding with Frank Simonetti, and the B's alum had two blow outs and is waiting on new tires -- so B-Hayes is on his own for a bit.

It's very hot and Hayesie reports that it is VERY hot and he is in desparate need of fluid.

Brian is just one of 5000 riders who have set out for Mass Maritime in Bourne (on Saturday). The riders will recieve massage treatments and a nice big dinner later this afternoon. Then lots of sleep.

Brian says his legs are shot, but he'll be fine. He's off again.

1:33 p.m.
Several members of the Bike Team have made it to the Mass Maritime Academy, where they are parking their bikes and getting ready to rest up for the nearly 90 mile finish in the a.m.

Frank Simonetti got a new tire and caught up with Brian Hayes and everyone is working to reunite and find out how everyone on the Team did on their first leg.

An early start on Day 2. Photo: Edith Weiler
Sunday, August 3rd
7:38 a.m.
It's Day Two and the Boston Bruins Bike Team has 20 miles down. They are enjoying their first water stop of the morning.

The bikers got up at 4:30 a.m. and were on their bikes by 5:50 a.m.

Today, the team rides as a group, and like last year will plan on crossing the finish line together.

One highlight of the morning -- a stop at the home of Jeff Hayes, the Boston Bruins Bike Team's beloved pedal partner from 2006.

Sadly, Jeff lost his battle against Ewing's Sarcoma and passed away in January of 2007.  Hayes was a star defenseman for the Sandwich High School Hockey Team before he was diagnosed.

Jeff's family reacquainted themselves with the team and sent them off toward the finish line.

10:14 a.m.
They're in Wellfleet! That means only 17 miles or so are left in the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team's assault on the 2008 PMC.

The group plans on stopping about five miles before the finish to gather and prepare to end the race together.

"Everyone still has legs," added a jubilant Brian Hayes, our embedded reporter in the group.

Even those people who are not racing, like Bruins Foundation Student Coordinator Zack Fitzgerald, are moved by this event.

"My impression after witnessing this event for the first time, and seeing people from all walks of life come out here and go all out to finish this ride, is that this is an inspirational (weekend)," he said via phone.

Fitzgerald also noted that he is excited to get back to the TD Banknorth Garden on Monday to help tally up the groups donation to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

After adding together the proceeds from events like the Bruins Harbor Cruise, Ice & Dice and Skate & Bait, Fitzgerald anticipates a hefty donation to the worthwhile cause.

A Nifty thumbs up! Photo: Edith Weiler
12:57 p.m.
It's over -- another successful ride for the Foundation Bike Team!

"It was a great ride," writes Brian Hayes. "Everyone did awesome!"

Congratulations to everyone.

4:17 p.m.
The B's Bike Team is on the Provincetown II and on their way back to Boston.

"It was a great weekend again," said Boston  Bruins Foundation Director of Development, Bob Sweeney. "We had 31 riders -- the most ever -- and we're hoping to raise $200,000 in donations.

"It was also great to see the support from fellow B's alumni and it just goes to show you how these guys step up for a good cause."

According to Bob, inspiration was everywhere, including within the B's team itself.

"It was great to be riding with teammate Deb McNamara, who battled cancer all her life and is such an inspiration to all of us on the team," he said.

Here's hoping that Deb, Bob and all of the B's Bike Team members are enjoying a nice relaxing ride home.

6:45 p.m.
The team is back in Boston, safe-and-sound.

Thursday, August 7th
Thanks to a lot of help from Edith Weiler (wife of rider William Weiler) the photo gallery for the 2008 PMC is done, but the fund raising efforts on behalf of the Dana Farber Cancer institute are not.

With another event on the docket the Rally for a Cure event will happen in just under a month! Click here for more info.

This morning Bob Sweeney said that the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team was still counting contributions, but should be over $200,000 when the big check is presented  in the fall -- that's the Bike Team's largest donation to date!

Click here to learn more about the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team and donating to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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