Manning Rides On

Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
August, 2019
Article Body: 

Before he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age eight, Jack Manning’s childhood was pretty typical. But then he underwent a year of chemotherapy, and eventually lost his left leg to the disease. Although his life had taken an alternate course, he was not going to let the cancer get in his way. Manning still managed to play both football and baseball for Roxbury Latin High School. The Boston College senior is also participating in a men’s travel baseball league.
“Those years were tough, but I don’t really remember too much about it as it was so long ago,” the now 21-year old said. “I do know the family members around me were fantastic. With the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber I had the best taking care of me, making me as comfortable as I could be through the ordeal.”
Grateful for the care Jack received, his father and uncle formed Team Jack, now in its 10th year riding in the Pan Mass Challenge. The team primarily rides the Sturbridge to Provincetown route, but depending on some of their riders, will occasionally leave out of Wellesley.
Manning himself joined the team at the age of 16. This year will be his fourth Pan Mass Challenge, having taken a few years off in between.
“It’s tough to describe the feeling of my first experience,” Manning said. “Your adrenaline keeps you going because of what you are doing (helping to raise money for one of the best fundraisers around), but as you ride seeing all the cheering volunteers as well as all of the other riders is a really cool experience.”
Manning said his first year riding the PMC included absolutely miserable weather.
“While I can’t recall too much from that year, I do know that it happened to be one of the worst, weather wise, in the history of the ride,” he said. “It was the worst rain that the riders had ever endured on the course. I was definitely not used to riding in heavy downpours, but I just kept pedaling along as it was important to finish.”
Although the rain was horrendous that first year, Manning’s father was alongside him to keep him going, as well as the many people cheering them on all the way from start to finish.
“My father, Vincent, was never really a biker, but he felt that this was for a great cause and fell in love with it. He was very regimented about the ride so he kept pushing me and I definitely would not have been able to do this without him,” Manning said. “Although that first year the rain was horrible it was such a cool experience seeing all people getting wet with you as they cheered you on. It’s all about finishing for the cause.”
As Team Jack prepares for its 10th anniversary riding the PMC, the group, with ten riders this year, will likely eclipse the $200,000 mark. Manning can’t thank the group and supporters enough.
“The group has had a consistent number of riders through the years committed to raising money for this cause, “Manning said. “Not only do we have committed riders, but we have generous and willing people that want to help out the cause with their donations.”
Although he has had his difficulties pedaling with a prosthetic, it’s something that Manning no longer really thinks about once he starts the ride.
“The ride is obviously for the cause and the PMC is the best in the world at raising money for those with the disease,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be part of it all while helping people and hopefully one day they’ll get there and find a cure.”