For Scott LaRosa, PMC Connects Him to Son, Josh

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

As a child growing up Franklin’s Joshua LaRosa loved to ride his bike, it was where he felt most comfortable and at ease with himself. In addition to riding his bike, he also loved karate, where he was a junior black belt.
Unfortunately, at the age of 16, he was having some issues and they found a mass in his stomach, which was later diagnosed as cancer. A cancer that was untreatable – and the doctors gave him no more than two years to live. In September of 2007 the LaRosa family lost Josh at the age of 17.
“He was absolutely unbelievable for a 16-17 year old. He didn’t ever complain about what he was going through,” said his father Scott. “When he knew that his time was coming, he put the entire family at peace. He didn’t want us to stop living our lives just because his was coming to an end. He was so young, but so wise.”
After his son passed away, which was 12 years ago, the elder LaRosa was looking for a way to honor his son, and then he found the Pan Mass Challenge. Having a fundraiser that is done on a bike really hit LaRosa and he knew that this was his new goal in life.
“I committed to riding the PMC under the banner “Journey for Josh”, LaRosa said. “For the first four years, that I took part in the ride, I actually rode Josh’s bike; it was very uplifting for me.”
Now riding in the PMC for the ninth year, LaRosa has updated the banner under which he rides; it is now Journey for Josh with hope for all.
The bicycle theme has continued to pop up. Josh’s eighth grade teacher always kept her students’ poetry and would mail it to them after graduation. Following Josh’s passing, the family received Josh’s poetry, which was all about the freedom he felt when he was on his bike.
Riding in his first PMC many years ago, LaRosa found the Wellesley to Provincetown ride very emotional as well as inspirational.
“That first ride was an uplifting experience, probably the biggest of my life. I could feel my son with me the entire ride, and he has been with me every single year,” he said. “The commonality that we all (riders as well as volunteers) had made us all that much closer to one another. Everyone talking and sharing their reasoning to why they ride.”
LaRosa loves talking about his son and sharing why he rides with anyone who will listen. Through the PMC, he’s not only gotten to share his thoughts, but has also learned about all the other riders’ family members and reason for riding.
“The entire weekend in itself is unbelievably crazy with some 6,000 plus riders touched by cancer in one way or another,” LaRosa said. “Each and every one of us best friends.”
LaRosa, who after the first year has continued to ride the 192-mile trek from Sturbridge to Provincetown knowing that his son is with him the entire way. In terms of fundraising LaRosa is considered a heavy hitter (raising at least $8,500) and is hoping to be able to eclipse the $10,000 mark this year all for the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber in hopes that a cure for cancer will eventually be found.