Each member of the Riverside Rockets Pan-Mass Challenge team has a personal connection to the fight against cancer.
Some have lost relatives to the disease, including captain Katherine Brown, who rides as a tribute to her mother, Polly Zevin. Riverside Cycle owner Aaron Millett pedals in honor of his brother, Elliott, and Kevin Murphy takes part in memory of both his parents, Joan and Ed.
Sarah Chapman signed up last year after witnessing mother-in-law Eileen Moccia’s “really tough battle with cancer.”
This year, she is riding a tandem bicycle with her father, Jim, who was diagnosed with leukemia in November and is a first-time participant in the ride.
“It’s been a great help to me,” Jim Chapman said. “It’s really special to ride with my daughter.”
The team of 23 members, who mostly hail from Amesbury and Newburyport, is behind this weekend’s Pan-Merrimack Challenge, which takes off from Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport tomorrow morning. All proceeds from the second annual event will go to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund.
“We’re all committed to the cause of finding a cure for cancer,” Brown said. “We’re doing what we can to make it better.”
Jim Chapman said he sees it as a chance “to battle the disease I’ve got, but to battle it for everybody.”
The Riverside Rockets team, which formed last year with 13 members and raised $57,800, has committed to raising $100,000 this year. The Pan-Merrimack is its biggest fundraiser, and the members are hoping to attract at least 200 riders. More than 100 had signed up as of yesterday afternoon.
Modeled after the Pan-Mass Challenge but on a smaller scale, the Pan-Merrimack lets bicyclists choose from either a 25-mile or 50-mile scenic route. Participants pay a $50 registration fee and are also required to raise at least $50 in donations.