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Riding for Jeff: Bruins PMC Team 2007

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Jeff Hayes
[Photo Gallery]

On August 4 -5, 2007, the Boston Bruins Bike team completed the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

This year, thanks to sponsors NESN and Sovereign Bank, the Bruins PMC Bike Team rode the Cape and featured former Bruins Lyndon Byers, Gary Doak, Shawn McEachern, Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly, Frank Simonetti, Bob Sweeney, and Don Sweeney, along with Bruins staff, and rode in memory of their 2006 pedal partner, Jeff Hayes.

Jeff was paired with the team last year on the team’s inaugural ride in the PMC. Sadly, Jeff lost his battle against Ewing's Sarcoma and passed away in January. The team has rallied around this tragedy, vowing to raise even more money in Jeff's memory!

The money raised goes a long way in helping to ensure that we allow the medical community every possible option to confront these diseases that deeply affect children and their families on such a widespread basis.

Fundraising for the Bruins Foundation PMC has the team projected to raise over $140,000!

This combined with last year’s effort of $115,000 puts the two-year total at over $250,000 donated to the Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute!

Below you will find a full breakdown of the Boston Bruins Foundation's efforts in regard to the PMC and will enjoy many photographs (most of which were taken by Edith Weiler). As you read along, please note the emotion in the words and faces of the individuals who are associated with this fine cause. And, if you are moved to do so, click the link at the bottom of the page to contact the Foundation in order to donate or volunteer for next year.

Reaction to the Ride
Bob Sweeney
Director, Boston Bruins Foundation

Bob Sweeney
"It was another great event and I am sure they are going to break records. And last year they raised 26 million dollars!

We, on the Bruins team, try to do our small part.

This year, we had a couple of new additions and that worked out great -- although I think they are a little sore. You know, those rookies who didn't train enough, like Jay Southwood and Rick Middleton, but I think they will learn next year. Ha. Ha.

On the other hand, and in all seriousness, our teammate Don Sweeney finished something like 4th overall on the first day and that's incredible. He's been training a lot and is obviously a terrific athlete and he had the best showing out of all of us.

But I think that if you ask anybody on our team it was great to have Susan Hayes with us to ride in Jeff's honor this year. We tried to do our small part to do something good in his memory.

I think that once you do the Pan-Mass Challenge it is tough to say "No" unless you are physically unable to do so. It's just a great event and it's amazing to see so many people riding for one cause.

It was amazing."

Dan Zimmer
Vice President, Business Operations

Dan Zimmer
"Being new to Boston, I'd never heard of the Pan-Mass Challenge when Kim Jacobs asked me to join the team months ago. 

It was a privilege to ride with the Bruins to experience this great event, especially the time spent with John and Susan Hayes to honor and remember their son (and our Pedal Partner) Jeff Hayes, who lost his battle with cancer.

The first day’s ride was hot, long and hilly. 

Best memory: every uphill in the first fifty miles led to an exhilarating downhill!

Later that morning, Rob Simpson from NESN, Swoop (Bob Sweeney), Brian Hayes and I got to ride together for long stretches at what seemed to be a really good pace.

The second day was a real challenge with many more hills than I expected.  But I’ll never forget the hundreds of spectators cheering our team on as soon as they saw the Bruins logo on our jerseys. 

Also on Sunday, the team made a special stop with the Hayes family to say a poignant roadside prayer in Jeff’s memory. That moment got us focused on why we were riding – to help Dana Farber develop cancer cures. 

We all had sore legs on Monday, but that was overshadowed by the strong sense of accomplishment in helping a very worthy cause. 

Riding with the Bruins team sure helped make the miles go by quickly, and I am already looking forward to coming back next year to help raise more money for cancer research!"

Don Sweeney
Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development

Don Sweeney
"The '07 PMC was a weekend filled with life-lasting memories as the Bruins team grew in numbers and our Alumni group has swollen to eight former players.

The most important moment of the event was when the entire team met, along the route on day 2, with the Hayes family and their friends to join in a prayer in Jeff's memory.

There were some teary eyes as we pedaled onward.

Jeff's mom, Susan Hayes, was an inspiration this weekend as she completed a significant portion of the ride!

I visited with a fellow New Brunswick native (he beat me in a shoot out when we were Pee Wees!), who lost the lower portion of his left leg a few years ago, but it hasn't stopped him from riding.

Nifty, LB and I also took a photo of a boy who holds a sign with his age on it and the a thank you to all PMC riders as he crosses off each year of survival.

Bill and Laura (friends of the team) hosted us for dinner on Friday and it was a great evening.

Many kudos go to Bruins staffers Kerry Collins and Eryn Gallagher for all of their hard work. I bet that is one of the reasons why Jay Southwood wanted to ride this year -- instead of taking care of all of us! 

Congrats to first timers Dan, Jay, Brian, Nifty and Frank S...they were real troopers and they should be proud of their effort.

Many thanks to all of the Bruins Team members -- it is a nice feeling to be part of a team again!!!"

Jay Southwood
Boston Bruins Foundation, Coordinator

Jay Southwood
"The single most unforgettable aspect of the ride was the support of the fans and volunteers along the way.

The signs and cheering were endless and inspiring to say the least.
One particular instance that really got me going was a young man (maybe 14, 15 years old) sitting in his front yard in his wheelchair with his mom.
She was holding a thank you sign and he had a big smile on his face. I don't know them personally, and I don't know what afflicted him, but I know that he made me feel proud of what I was doing."

A Running (or Riding) Blog of the PMC

Brian Hayes
Rider Brian Hayes (no relation to Jeff) was in touch with throughout the weekend and provided updates on the team's progress.

And, even in retrospect, Brian had a lot of things he wanted to add about his own experiences.

"As a first time rider going into the Pan Mass Challenge, all I had heard was that the first 50 miles are really tough. Of course this makes you nervous and unsure of what lies ahead for the team. 

The Opening Ceremony for the PMC is an amazing event where you hear about the success stories and the great strides that are being made in finding cures for cancer.

Unfortunately, it is all reinforced when you then you hear the stories like that of Jeff Hayes where someone special is taken away from his family and friends way too early.

Its very tough not to be emotional at the stories you hear and, obviously, after all of that you are not so worried about the hills. 

I met Jeff Hayes last year in September; this was after the Bruins Organization rode in PMC with Jeff as a Pedal Partner. 

I was blown away by Jeff, who was so mature and seemed to know just want he wanted out of his life, that was a drastic difference from myself at that age. Jeff looked great and seemed to be doing very well with his fight against Ewing's Sarcoma. Meeting Susan and John Hayes that day and having them Thank me for coming out and being a part of helping to raise money for Jeff, it amazing how strong they are and thinking to myself I don't know how they do it. 

Obviously, Susan, John and the entire Hayes family have a tremendous amount of faith in order to keep up the fight.

At the start of the PMC in Sturbridge the sight of 5000 riders preparing to take on the challenge was an awe-inspiring sight. 

We Bruins took off pedaling as a team and began the long ride to Bourne. From the very beginning of the ride, the route is lined with supporters, on the side of the road, cheering you on.  They're out there holding signs and ringing bells to give you the much-needed push to get up that next hill. 

By the way, all of the volunteers that take part in the PMC are the unsung heroes of this event, donating time and lots of energy to see that the riders have everything they need to finish. 

And I don't want to forget to mention the tireless effort of Kerry Collins and Eryn Gallagher who really took care of us over the two-day event. There's no doubt that the team wouldn't have succeeded without their efforts.

Day Two started with a heavy feeling in my legs and my wondering how we would get through the remainder of the ride, including going over the Bourne Bridge.

Getting over that bridge -- that is an unbelievable feeling -- not sure I will ever look at a span in the same way.

Then we went around the rotary and missed a turn and started heading the wrong way with Rob Simpson and William Weiler.  But of course a PMC Volunteer seeing us and catching us in his van saying to turn around take a right and catch up with the route.

I thought the Cape was flat, let me tell you it's not.

Wellfleet is not a lot of fun -- up and down hills for miles at a time.  But stopping for a visit with the Hayes family and friends for a prayer in memory of Jeff put things in perspective.
Seeing how much of an impact Jeff had on his friends and others is a excellent example of what kind of person his was. 

Getting back on the bike after seeing Jeff's family and friends was tough, but I was inspired by Susan Hayes and the struggle she must have been dealing with during the entire event. Susan is a very strong women, mother and wife, everyone on the team was in awe witnessing her efforts over the ride.

In terms of the ride itself, for me the best part was finishing in Provincetown and seeing my own family at the finish line. Seeing my wife and hearing my son tell me he was proud of me and seeing his smile was just what the doctor ordered.

Finally, thanks to everyone who attended all of our fund-raising events and made donations for the Bruins PMC team, without your support and donations we would not be able to be so successful. I look forward to riding and sharing great experiences with this amazing group of people in many more Pan Mass Challenges.

Thank you to William Weiler, Don Sweeney, Bob Sweeney, Gary Doak, Deb McNamara, Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly, Judie Songin, Shawn McEachern, Frank Simonetti, LB, Dan Zimmer, Kim Jacobs, Rob Simpson, Bill Barden, Jay Southwood, Jimmy St. Germain, Jim Egan, Cheryl Payne, Steve Caldwell, Abby Lincoln, Charlie and John Reichenbach it was a pleasure to ride with you and look forward to next year and creating new memories with the Bruins PMC team."

What follows is a "running blog"  of the ride, so the most recent portions are at the top and the beginning of the ride is down below.

Sunday, August 5
The ride is complete. Brian writes in from the road: "All finished. Great ride and time for a shower."

1:21 p.m.
Rumor has it that Don Sweeney is one heck of a rider and was one of the first five finishers on Saturday.

The riders, now in Wellfleet,  have 25 miles left and are at their third and last water stop.

"The coolest thing is that everyone is out on the road," said Brian. "There are people everywhere -- ringing bells, cheering you on, and thanking you for riding."

Jack with Dan Zimmer, NESN's Rob Simpson and Brian Hayes
9:28 a.m.
The riders just went by Jack O'Riordan.

Jack,  just 11, is a cancer survivor and held up a sign that said "I'm 11 thanks to you."

Saturday, August 4
7:16 p.m.
Safely ensconced on the Cape, the team is catching their wind, but Brian wrote in one more time.

"This is a wonderful event," he said. "I don't know how they pull it off.

"There are sooooo many volunteers and it's amazing that they all keep thanking the riders for what we do.

"That's especially ironic because it is what they do -- without any fanfare -- which gets us through the event," he said.

Communications issues (cell phone coverage) are still not helping anyone keep in touch with the Bish Cave -- so we may have to deal with some second hand accounts later.

The Bruins riders send out a "shout out" to team massage people Kathy and Erica!

After the hills today, the riders certainly needed their help...

Brian writes in to say that he's "blown away by all the volunteers and support from nearly every community!"

He also reports that the squad is nearing today's end point and are getting the squad together for the finish.

Susan Hayes
2:16 p.m.
Cell phone reception is curtailing much communication between and the riders, but my contact, Brian, texts in saying, "Caught up to Susan Hayes."

Susan Hayes, is, of course, the mother of Jeff Hayes, who I had mentioned earlier was the Bruins pedal partner last year.

Sadly, Jeff lost his battle against Ewing's Sarcoma and passed away in January. The team, and his mom, are riding in his memory.

Brian texted in:
"Just finished 70 miles. So far it's pretty tough. Hilly as heck."

7:41 a.m.
Brian called in at a water stop after the first 25-mile stretch was completed. describes what Brian and the other riders are encountering:

The original first day route, Sturbridge to Bourne is the longest and most difficult leg of the event. The first 50 miles are quite hilly; riders face long grueling climbs as well as very fast descents.

The last 60 miles are a combination of rolling hills and flats that if not for the first 50 miles, could be considered fairly easy.

This ride begins at 6:00 am and depending on pace and rest times, can last from 4 hours to 14 hours. Most riders arrive...between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

"It was a pretty good ride," said Brian of his first stretch. "It was actually pretty unbelievable at 6:00 when 5000 people started this morning."

Brian also described last night's opening ceremony.

"Last night's program was very cool," he said. "They talked about our pedal partner from last year, Jeff Hayes, and introduced his family to the crowd and there was a standing ovation."

Friday, August 3

Hello True Believers!

The Bruins Pan-Mass Challenge Bike Team is traveling the Mass Pike later today, by auto, and will arrive in Sturbridge this afternoon to prepare for tomorrow morning's start and to enjoy opening ceremonies this evening.

One B's rider, Jim Egan, of Land Design Associates, Inc., has taken the spirit of the ride past the finish line. He wrote in to the Bruins offices:

To help raise money for the Bruins PMC team, my company is donating design services.  For the first 10 designs, 100 percent of the cost will be donated to the Dana Farber. After that, 50 percent of the design cost will be donated.
Our work has been featured on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the Newton House Tour and the Audubon Society Garden Tour. 
Call 781-769-3286 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

That's a great offer Jim, Thanks!

Leading up to the Ride
Bruins Cruise, Comedy Night, Frozen Face Off
Fund raising for cancer research has been the M.O. for many members of the Bruins organization for much of this month.

Shawn McEachern & Friends
On Tuesday, July 31st the Boston Bruins Foundation took to Boston Harbor on-board Bay State Cruise Lines’ “Provincetown II” in an effort to raise funds for their 2007 Pan-Mass Challenge Bike Team.

Nearly 350 fans came from across the “Hub of Hockey” to enjoy beautiful scenery, great weather, and the company of Bruins alumni such as Terry O’Reilly, Don Sweeney, and Craig Janney.

Max Lane and Steve Nelson, New England Patriots Alumni, were also on hand to enjoy the summer stylings of musician Jim Plunkett and his band.

The Boston Bruins Ice Girls mingled with fans and sold raffle tickets to help raise more funds, which will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute following the Bruins PMC Team's 2nd annual 192-mile trek to beat cancer.

Bruins Alumni Bob Sweeney and Lyndon Byers, both of whom will take to bicycles during the PMC, auctioneered a live auction featuring items such as a Bruins VIP Experience, Boston Celtics tickets, an autographed, limited edition photo of David Ortiz and other great prizes.

“I really want to thank all of the Bruins fans for coming out here tonight,” said Byers, co-host of WAAF’s Hill-Man morning show, as he addressed the crowd. “It’s awesome that over 300 of you showed up tonight to raise money to fight cancer.

"We couldn’t do this without you.”

The event was a success as the Bruins Foundation raised nearly $15,000 for their bike team, which has now surpassed last year’s fundraising mark of $115,000 earmarked for the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute.

Ha, Ha, Ha…
On July 26th, Giggles Comedy Club at the Prince Restaurant in Saugus was also the host of an evening of laughs to raise money for the fight against cancer as the PMC Bike Team, including Rick Middleton, joined fans for a successful night of comedy, food, and drinks.

The doors opened at 7:00 PM, and the 8:00 PM show featured local comedians Kevin Knox, Dave Russo, Mark Riley, Jim Laulatta, Brad Mastrangelo, and Johnny Pizzi.

Over 80 guests donated around $7,000 to a very good cause!

Not so chilly reception!
Terry O'Reilly & Friends
Boston Bruins fans and friends turned out on Wednesday, July 19th at the Water Club in Quincy despite Mother Nature's best efforts to rain on the parade!

Roughly 70 guests attended the 3rd Annual “Frozen Face-Off” hosted by the Boston Bruins Academy -- just another event was held to benefit the Bruins Bike Team.

“Last year we were able to make an impact for the Dana-Farber, and I just want to thank you for showing up here tonight for helping us to break last year’s fundraising mark,” said Bruins Alumni and Foundation Director of Development Bob Sweeney as he addressed the crowd.

Sweeney was in attendance along with other Bruins alumni such as Terry O’Reilly.

Fans enjoyed the Maritime feel that The Water Club offers nestled in Quincy’s Marina Bay.  The restaurant’s 2nd floor deck became a popular spot once the weather improved as fans made their way outside to check out the view of the boardwalk and harbor.

Guests enjoyed food and drinks served up by Island Oasis while participating in silent auction and raffles, which featured items such as Bruins tickets and destination golf packages.                                                                 

PMC Lineup
This year's Pan Mass Challenge Bike Team is (in alphabetical order):
Bill Barden, Lyndon Byers, Steven Caldwell, Gary Doak, Jim Egan, Brian Hayes, Susan Hayes, Kim Jacobs, Abby Lincoln, Shawn McEachern, Deborah McNamara, Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly, Cheryl Payne, Charlie Reichenbach, John Reichenbach, Frank Simonetti, Rob Simpson, Judie Songin, Jay Southwood, James St. Germain, Bob Sweeney, Don Sweeney, William Weiler and Dan Zimmer. Facilitators Kerry Collins and Eryn Gallagher join them and will help the team along the way.

Visit our PMC page, here.

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