Barry Kraft's Ride
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Why I Ride ...
I got involved in the PMC in 1980. When Billy told me that he was starting a fundraising bike ride, I thought it would be great fun. I was happy it was for a charity, but, quite frankly, I was doing it because Billy had persuaded me. I was to attempt to ride more miles than I had ever ridden. I was doing it for the enjoyment, the challenge, and for Billy. Even though I completed the ride at night, with help from the headlights of the single support van, I enjoyed the ride more than I had anticipated.
I was lucky, too. A few riders ended up in Malden instead of Plymouth. They were only 35 miles off course! There was really no map. The mileage was advertised as 100 miles that first day. The actual mileage was more like 132! There was almost no food left by the time I got in. Rather than munching on some hamburgers and hot dogs, I ate what was left - the rolls!
Despite all the issues with the ride, I felt great in having accomplished more than I ever thought I could. I knew I had to come back for more. And I've been coming back every year since. In 2015, I will be riding my 36th consecutive Pan Mass Challenge.
I continue to be involved in the PMC so that I can come Full Circle. I did the ride for fun that first year, and, in the ensuing years, I did the ride more for the cause. Each year when I ride, I never lose track of the reason why I'm there. I still have lots of fun. The people are great, and the entire atmosphere makes one feel like he is doing his part. I am blessed that I am healthy enough to continue riding. I will continue to ride until we have a cure. I want to do the ride strictly for fun again. Then I will have come Full Circle.
My 18-year old cousin was the first of my family to be taken by cancer. My mother, at 68, was next. She was proud of me, got to see my involvement in the PMC, and knew that I was doing something that I loved while helping others. I never thought that I would some day be riding for her. All of the rides that I did when she was sick were extra special and helped me to stay focused on the cause. My uncle and aunt died of cancer as did my sister-in-law and most recently, I’ve lost several friends to this disease. One of my best friends, Todd Miller (that's him with me in the picture), who rode all but the first PMC with me, was my bicycling mentor and provided the inspiration for me to keep riding year after year, even when I wasn't in the best of shape. Todd passed away in 1998 from lung cancer. I continue to ride with a memento from Todd on my bike so that he is with me every day that I am on a bike. I continue to ride in the hopes that others will not have to experience the loss of a close friend like Todd.
In 2011, cancer hit very close to home. I received a call from my son, Zak, who was 28 years old. He told me he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How ironic. I started riding when I was 28. I’ve devoted much of my adult life to fundraising for a cure for this disease. But cancer does not discriminate. My son has cancer! I remember thinking that all was going to be ok, fortunately, because he got the “good kind of cancer”. I knew the cure rates for Hodgkin’s were high.
It was at this moment that I was, once again, happy that I was involved in the PMC. The fundraising we’ve done, and we continue to do, is helping. I’m certain that our efforts will help to allow Zak to enjoy a healthy and long life. I'm fortunate to be able to say that in 2015, Zak is healthy and cancer-free!
The PMC is as much a part of my life as childhood, summer camp and college were. I've met some great friends over the years. I see them during the year, and look forward to seeing them at the event every year. The PMC even has it's own language. I speak PMC for 12 months a year.
I've been riding so long that the PMC and the Boston Red Sox gave me the thrill of a lifetime. For the PMC's 25th anniversary, I got to ride my bike on the outfield grass at Fenway Park. For the 30th anniversary of the ride, I got to throw out the first pitch! And in 2011, for the 32nd anniversary of the ride, my son, Zak, received the honor of throwing out the first pitch! He threw it right down the middle of the plate. So, here is our trivia question: Name the father and son who, separately, threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park between the years of 2009 and 2011? (see the photos)
So, now you know my story. And now you know why I ride the PMC every year.
The PMC is responsible for taking me places I never thought I'd be.
The PMC is responsible for allowing many of our friends and family to survive this disease.
The PMC gives me a solid reason to be on the bike when it's cool and overcast.
The PMC inspires me to help others who are not as fortunate.
The PMC allows me to see, first hand, the people whose lives we are saving.
I am thankful for the PMC.
The bottom line is that I want to come full circle.
I want to be riding the event strictly for fun again and in celebration of the cure.
I hope you can help too!
My Online Supporters
|I have chosen to keep all of my donors' information confidential; therefore it is not displayed on my PMC public donor list.|