Natick Readies for 13th PMC Kids Ride

Jacqui Morton
Issue Date: 
May, 2019
Article Body: 

Debbie Knapik met me at the Belkin Lookout Farm one recent morning, a blue sky welcoming us to roam around as we chatted about Natick’s PMC Kids Ride happening Sunday, May 5. Debbie is the ride’s Registration Coordinator and works with a committee to make the event happen. This year marks the 13th ride in Natick, started by residents Glynn Hawley and Missy McCauley. The local team works with the Pan-Mass Challenge to produce the event, which has taken place at the farm for many years.
Kids ages 2 to 12 can participate – the ride and festivities will begin at 9am on May 5th, though families should arrive earlier to register and walk-ons are welcome. Registration opens at 8am and is $25. There is a fundraising minimum of $30 per rider. All riders will receive a token of appreciation for participating and there are prizes for those who take on the challenge of raising more: “Heavy Hitters” who raise $300 or more receive a sack pack and “Breakaway Fundraisers” who raise $800 or more will be celebrated with a backpack. “Many kids take it quite seriously,” Debbie tells me. “They host lemonade stands and backyard parties. The weather being what it is in New England, kids often raise money through the summer.” Donations can come in until September.
With spring finally here, Belkin Lookout Farm is readying for the season. This weekend that they’ll generously host the PMC Kids Ride will be opening weekend for the farm. The tractors rev as we stand in the spot of the Mini Fruit Loop, a small course for riders on more than two-wheels. Little ones can ride around here once or for an hour.
A bit across from the mini loop is the entrance to Adventure Express, the 1.1 mile PMC Kids course for riders on bicycles. No adults are allowed to enter this circuit but Debbie assures us that there are volunteers keeping an eye out for the kids as they ride, and it gives the kids a chance to look out for each other. Water stops help make it official and kids are welcome to ride the course more than once before heading over to the post party.
Just to our right, Debbie points out the space where the post-ride party will happen, hosted by Cindy Fitzgibbon, award-winning meteorologist from WCVB. Kids will enjoy face painting, snacks, a bouncy house, a raffle just for them, and other activities including a silent auction. Kids can also enjoy the farm’s fun and playground while they are there for the ride.
The program at past PMC Kids Rides has featured a Pedal Partner, a fellow young Natick resident battling cancer. I reached out to Luke Iorio, age 8, who riders will remember from past rides. “This year will be my third PMC Kids Ride,” he shares. “When I was 4 I got diagnosed with cancer but now I’m cancer free. I really loved it last year when I got to say ready set go to start the ride. I can’t wait for this year’s ride.”
Luke’s mom, Melissa, is grateful for the community’s support. “The PMC kids ride is an incredible event,” she said. “It is so awesome to see the community come together for such a great cause.” Luke’s little brother, Matty, is thrilled that Luke is doing great, but he’s still looking forward to the ride, adding, “I go to Natick pre-school and I really hope lots of my friends come to the ride because it’s so fun.”
The PMC Kids Ride offers families a positive counterpoint to difficult conversations about cancer; riders can choose to raise funds in honor of a friend or loved one, or dedicate their ride to someone special, and 100% of rider-raised funds support Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Last year, Luke Iorio’s cousin Emily got to join in the fun. “Last year was my first time going to the Kids Ride. I went to support my cousin and all the other kids and adults that have had cancer,” she reports. “I loved the face painting and the bouncy house.”
Natick’s ride is one of the first to begin in Massachusetts, where now a total of between 30 and 35 rides will seek to raise $1M this year. This year kids in Natick specifically are going to want to raise as much as they can, because every dollar they raise will be matched by an anonymous family foundation, up to $100,000.
Lots of fun for a great cause. Natick’s 13th PMC Kids Ride sounds like the one to be at, but if you can’t be there and want to support the riders, donations can be made at The coordinating committee is grateful for the volunteers and sponsors that make this annual event possible; please reach out through their website if you’d like to get involved.