Norwood Resident Rides the Pan Mass Challenge

By Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
September, 2017
Article Body: 

Unlike many who get involved in the Dana Farber Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), Norwood’s Eric LaCroix did not have anyone who had been afflicted with Cancer, but still decided to lend a hand. Six years ago, LaCroix found out that his wife’s college roommate’s parents were manning the Brewster water spot and he and his wife started volunteering.
After two years of handing out water to the riders as they passed through Brewster, the Norwood resident, who had seen and heard all the stories of the PMC as well as all the people coming out to offer support, decided that he too would take to a bike.
LaCroix joined up with a partner in his law firm with three other riders to form Team Kelmar. That first year in the PMC, the Norwood biker raised $11,000, and over the past four years, Team Kelmar, has raised over $200,000 for the event.
“When the other members of the firm started talking about putting a team together to ride in the PMC, I was very interested," LaCroix said. "I had owned a road bike and did a little bit of riding and figured I could do this. This was a big commitment, but once I agreed to do it I was all in. Even if I didn’t know what I was doing, I’d figure it out along the route.”
In order to get his donors to put up the $11,000 during his first year’s ride, LaCroix started posting his progress online to get ready for the race.
“I posted that I was getting up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning and riding 50-60 miles,” LaCroix said “I hoped that this would motivate my sponsors.”
LaCroix and his teammates decided to go with the original 192 mile ride even though there were much smaller routes to Provincetown.
“Initially, we decided that if we were going to do this, that we should go with the original 192-mile bike ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown,” LaCroix said. “Prior to the race, I was extremely nervous as this was a big commitment, both physically as well as financially. I quickly found out that the first day was scary as I was not as physically fit as I had thought.”
In addition to LaCroix finding out that he was not fully ready for the 192-mile ride, it was also raining cats and dogs the entire first day of the two-day ride.
“My first year riding, of course, was the worst weather in the history of the event,” LaCroix said. “It was in the upper 50’s and poured on day one from start to finish.”
Despite getting wet and riding the first leg of the ride in total discomfort, LaCroix did find solace in seeing all the volunteers, as well as the numerous spectators, cheering along the route in the rain. The motivation helped propel him through the miserable first day.
Although he originally began volunteering for the hell of it, LaCroix soon found out that he actually had something to ride for.
“Last year my cousin Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through Dana Farber for her treatment,” LaCroix said. “So for the past two years, the ride has had more meaning to me, it was now personal. Because my cousin had gone to Dana Farber, I was reassured to know where all 100% of the money collected was going.”
While LaCroix admits the ride is grueling, the weather has been much more cooperative and nicer over the last three years. The Norwood resident said he will continue to ride the PMC as long as he can because he believes that the fundraising model is fantastic; knowing that all the money goes straight to Dana Farber.
When the day comes that he can no longer ride, LaCroix said he will continue to support the cause in one way or another.
“Having brought my cousin to some of her appointments, I have seen the inside of the Dana Farber Institute,” LaCroix said. “They have a whole section dedicated to the Pan Mass Challenge with tons of rider pictures on the walls.”
While he didn’t say it, LaCroix is hoping that one day his picture will adorn the walls of the Dan Farber Institute to let the patients know he’s out there giving it his all for them.