Seven years ago, Susanne Hefel James’ 5-year-old son was sick in the hospital when she made him a promise.
“I told him, ‘I’ll run a marathon if you pull through this,’” said James, an Amesbury resident who had never run more than 2 miles in her life.
Paul James, who had just been diagnosed with leukemia, told her they had a deal.
When Paul was transferred from Children’s Hospital Boston to the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, his mother saw a poster for the Pan-Mass Challenge and decided that a bike-a-thon might be easier to conquer than a marathon.
It was then that Team Paul was born, with James participating in her first PMC that summer and riding every year since.
Since then, the team has had as many 16 bicyclists in the challenge. This year, three members will take on the two-day route from Wellesley to Provincetown on Aug. 2 and 3.
And Paul is now a healthy 12-year-old with plans to ride in the PMC as soon as he’s old enough. His younger brother, Noah, 10, also hopes to participate in the future.
Three years ago, James changed the name of the team to Team Paul & Eve, to include the then-2-year-old daughter of her friend Tammy Dayton of Concord. Eve had just been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer that mainly affects children.
Today, Eve Dayton is also in remission, and Team Paul & Eve is gearing up for its big fundraiser, the Waterfront Spin-a-thon on Saturday, May 17, in Newburyport.
Twenty-five stationary bikes, donated by Fuel Training Studio and the YWCA, will be set up on the waterfront, with six instructors offering 50-minute classes from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. A live DJ will play music, and Orange Leaf will provide free frozen yogurt.