AMESBURY — Lauretta Bailin was a runner who couldn’t run when she became inspired to take on her latest physical challenge in the Pan-Mass Challenge.
Bailin, one of the top female runners in the area, suffered a knee injury this spring, forcing her to adopt a new sports of choice — cycling. One evening, Lauretta and her wife, Eli, hosted their Amesbury neighbors, the Metcalf family, over for a cookout, when Kara Metcalf, mother of three kids, suggested Lauretta ride the Pan Mass Challenge for her middle child, 6-year-old Marisa.
Marisa Metcalf, a soon-to-be first-grader at Amesbury Elementary, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. She went through two years of treatment before being deemed “in remission” at the start of last school year. The proceeds of Bailin’s 192-mile ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge Aug. 3 and 4 will benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.
“They were over for a cookout, and Kara (Metcalf) said, ‘You should do the Pan-Mass Challenge for Marisa.’,” Bailin said. “I thought she was crazy. I thought more about it, and decided to do it. They inspired me to go for it.”
The Bailins and Metcalfs became friends shortly after Marisa was diagnosed with leukemia when the eldest sons of each family played on a soccer team together. The two sons became best friends, and the Bailins learned about Marisa’s diagnosis.
“I remember everything they were going through,” Bailin said. “The first day Marisa got out of the hospital, she came to a game. She was so frail. She wanted to jump around, because she couldn’t even do that.”
That memory inspired Bailin to make Marisa her “pedal partner.” She said Marisa was initially shy about being honored in this way, but later became proud.
“At first, she was really quiet about it,” Bailin said. “A couple of days after, she pulled on my arm and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re riding that far for me.’ She’s definitely on board.”