GROTON -- Twenty-one enthusiastic bike riders gathered together for the first "Groundhogs Ride for a Cure (GR4aC)" bike ride, organized by the Groundhogs PMC Express bike riding team who will be riding in the 2012 Jimmy Fund Pan Mass Challenge in August. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund, since its founding in 1948, has supported the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.
Setting out from Groton-Dunstable High School on an incredibly crisp, cool Sunday morning, the riders split into two groups, with 10 riders, led by Groundhogs team member Steve Clickner, challenging themselves with a 50-mile circuit that took them into Groton, over the covered bridge in Pepperell, to Hollis, N.H., then further into New Hampshire, and coming back through Dunstable before returning to the high school. The 11 other riders, backed up by Groundhog member Kevin Barrett, followed the same path into Monument Square in Hollis, N.H., but then turned south to return to the high school for a 25-mile circuit.
They rode with amazing speed, making it into Pepperell in short order, and finding themselves at the 13-mile mark water stop inside the first hour. The local riders, from Groton, Shirley, and Nashua, NH included: Steve Clickner (Groundhog), Ralph Rocco, Jason DaCunha, Erik Ferland, Michael Matera, Amanda Gabriel, Sandra Sammarco, Mark Murphy,
With 100 percent of the registration fee donated to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (Jimmy Fund), the riders enjoyed the reward of helping children with cancer on top of enjoying a beautiful day bike riding through scenic New England towns. Riders on the course were provided with snacks and had the added insurance of a pre-positioned mobile team available for assistance if needed, in case a bike became disabled or if the rider needed to stop because of an injury or illness.
The Groundhogs PMC Express team traditionally rides in the Pan-Mass Challenge each August, specifically participating in the Pedal Partner Program. Through this program, registered PMC teams are matched up with and ride in honor of Jimmy Fund Clinic patients, who are affectionately referred to as the teams' "Pedal Partners." The Groundhogs have been training for this August's PMC ride, with their partner Olivia Bonfilio in their hearts and minds. Olivia has Acute Promyelocytic Mylogenous Leukemia (APML), a very rare and deadly form of cancer and is currently in a two-year treatment program. "She is the team's inspiration," Groundhogs member Tricia Upton stated.
Although the number of riders was a little low for the first annual GR4aC event, the Groundhogs hope the word will get out for next year and that the number of riders will grow. Groundhogs PMC Express member, Steve Clickner said, "The important thing is we all had fun and we made some money for a very good purpose."
Ralph Acaba of Groton, relaxing at the finish line with his 15-year-old son Lucas, after completing the 25-mile ride, indicated that they had just found out about the planned event the day before. "We decided to jump in on it and it ended up being a great day for a ride, and a great cause to ride for."
The Groundhogs are still in the process of raising $43,000 for this year's PMC Challenge. Those who would still like to contribute to their cause (the Jimmy Fund) can go to the Groundhog's team PMC account at http://www.pmc.org/profile/tg0075" to make a donation.