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A Very Late Thank You – PMC 2012 Recap

How appropriate that I’ve waited (procrastinated) long enough to be able to add all of YOU to my list of things for which I am thankful during the holiday season. Thanks to your continued generosity, we were able to contribute $4,630 toward the $37 Million that was delivered to the Jimmy Fund on behalf of the Pan-Mass Challenge on November 4, 2012 (100% of which went directly toward fighting cancer)! The winner of this year’s $200 drawing (randomly picked by the kids from among a slew of construction paper) is Debbie Edson. Your check is in the mail!

This year’s ride was much warmer and dryer than last year’s. About the only new wrinkle was my nickname in the peloton – hunchback – in reference to the bag of ice shoved between my jersey and separated shoulder from 3-weeks prior. Nothing a little Harpoon IPA at the finish couldn’t cure. Debbie and the kids weren’t able to join me at the finish this year as they were successfully representing our swim club in the league championships. I was sad to miss them but knew they would have more fun in the pool than in the car watching 5,000 riders fly by in spandex.

There were many lasting images from the weekend, but I’ll share one in particular from about one month prior to PMC weekend.

Original Jimmy Fund Donation Box – Fenway Park

Many of you may not know that the Red Sox formed a partnership with the Jimmy Fund back in 1953 – the longest standing, most extensive, and significant team-charity relationship in all of professional sports. The Sox and the Braves (who left Boston for Milwaukee the year the Jimmy Fund/Sox relationship formed) used to play an annual Jimmy Fund charity game in Fenway as a way of breaking Spring Training before the start of the regular season. I know this because my father told me upon our first of many trips to Fenway together. He knows this because he played in that game when he was a Braves rookie, in 1966. I’m willing to bet this donation box was hanging on a column just like this one on that day in 1966 – perhaps with a few less layers of green paint on it, but one like it nonetheless.

The Jimmy Fund endures because of the efforts of volunteers and donors like you. Thank you again for your support for this charity and this important cause.

The Yin and Yang of Lance Armstrong

The daily deluge of articles about the fall of Lance Armstrong in the wake of the 1,000 page report from USADA shows no signs of slowing. It’s barely 9am, and already news has broken about Nike terminating their relationship with Lance and a decision by the now former 7-time TdF winning rider to step down as the chair of his own foundation, Livestrong.  Armstrong’s legacy appears to be descending faster than the pro peloton down Alpe d’Huez (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

But Armstrong presents a unique challenge to those of us, especially cyclists, trying to square our own opinions and feelings about where he stands in the pantheon of public figures. Armstrong was hailed as a “person to be deeply admired” for leading the fight against cancer by The Austin American-Statesman newspaper. “The trickier legacy is the one that goes beyond cycling.  If admirable work turns out to be built on a lie, is the lie then OK, the cheating excusable?” according to an editorial.

Coming to terms with his cycling legacy would seem to be the easier task when considering the impressive array of evidence presented by USADA.  When you look at the top finishers of the TdF during Lance’s 7-year reign, however, does this not represent THE best example  of a “new level playing field” where almost everyone (>70% of podium finishers) doped?  It seems the only real choice, sadly, is to basically ignore that era and declare no holder of the yellow jersey during those years – that’s what the director of the TdF appears heading toward.  Ultimately, of course, the right answer ought to be that no matter where the level is set, cheating cannot be allowed or condoned, and we must accept that not all were doping, therefore his cycling legacy is tainted.  Unfortunately, like Barry Bonds before him (another “prickly” superstar athlete), I strongly suspect Lance would’ve distinguished himself as a champion of cycling’s most treasured race without performance-enhancing drugs and techniques (though perhaps not 7-times).

Much more difficult is how we are to view his impact on cancer – the ultimate opponent.  Livestrong has received donations totaling almost $500 million since 1997.  Like many others, I’ve met, ridden next to Lance (hung onto his wheel more like it), and heard him speak in person.  He has inspired countless people, those with and without cancer, to grab (or buy) a bike (ask Trek about his impact) and ride – for exercise, for fun, for life.  We he have inspired the same in us without the victories?  Probably not.  His drive, example and name are clearly the biggest reason for Livestrong’s fundraising prowess.  Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether the organization was preparing for this day back in 2004 when it began the slow march to change the Lance Armstrong Foundation to the Livestrong namesake it’s held since 2009 – a rare example of a parent brand being usurped by its offshoot.  It’s always risky for an organization to be associated with a single person.  Often it’s about what happens to fundraising when the person retires or is no longer in the public eye.  In this case, it’s what will happen when the person remains in the public eye but for the wrong reasons.  Fortunately, it appears that while Nike is ending it’s relationship with Lance, they have “plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

It’s far too early to know the impact of the daily events related to his story.  We can only hope that Livestrong will do what Lance himself tells people in his book “It’s Not About the Bike” – “All I wanted to do was tell people to fight like hell.”

Cycling For A Cure: Part 6

2012 marks my 6th year riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge and raising money for The Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  With your help, we’ve managed to raise over $23,000 so far, but the challenge still remains.  With five years of fundraising data in the books, some trends  from within my annual donor base have started to emerge.  After a steady increase in both total and average amount per donor, overall donations fell in 2011, making last year my lowest total ever.  For the first time I came up just short of reaching the required, minimum fundraising amount ($4,200 in 2011).  Please help me make this a one-year blip rather than a trend!

*2011 Actual = $4,045; $4,200 represents minimum donation charged

The number of donors also fell slightly, though the number of repeat donors continue to grow and remain strong.

In that same time, the number of people affected by cancer whom I have known personally or through association has grown.  This year, I will ride in memory of Bill T, Dave K, Elizabeth W, Gordon C, Irina C, Jennifer L, Johnny A, Coach C, John F, Judy R, Mike W, Noah Y, Nora D, Tyler, and William H.  I am riding on behalf of those who continue to fight, including Alan L, Betty, Carolyn N, Diane R, Don N, Jeff, Joyce K, Judy, Julie O, Kathy R, Kristin H, Lori B, Nancy M, Paul R, TJ H, and Tracy W.  Once again, I ask for your support raising money for The Jimmy Fund.  And once again, 100% of your donations will go to directly to cancer research and treatment.

As in years past, I will draw from a list of all donors for a chance to win $200 (just think, you could actually MAKE money by donating, to say nothing of the tax benefits!). You can choose from one of the following, easy methods to donate:

1) Make an online donation: The following link will take you to my Pan-Mass Challenge Profile: http://www.pmc.org/profile/HU0001. You can also go to http://www.pmc.org, click on eGifts and search for me by my ID (HU0001) or name to make a donation.

2) Text to Give to My Ride: Just text “PMC HU0001” to 20222 to donate $10. You will receive a message asking you to confirm by replying “Yes.” It’s that easy!

3) Mail in a payment: Checks can be made payable to the PMC, Jimmy Fund, DFCI, or any combination of the three (please don’t make it out to me). Please send your checks directly to me so that I can process them with the standard forms, etc. If you would prefer to send your check directly to the PMC, however, please include a note indicating you are sponsoring me and send the check to: PMC, 77 4th Avenue, Needham, MA 02494.

Thank you for your continued generosity, and see you on the road!

Heath Umbach

Harpoon B2B Finish Line

PMC Delivers $35M to the Jimmy Fund

Dear Family, Friends and Donors,

On Veteran’s Day, the PMC delivered a check for $35 million dollars to the Jimmy Fund, $2M more than in 2010!  As always, this year’s ride was very rewarding and filled with inspiring stories of those who have and/or continue to fight against cancer and fond remembrances of those whom we’ve lost.  A sincere thank you to everyone who donated again or for the first time.  Unfortunately I came up $155 short of the $4,200 minimum this year, but don’t worry as the PMC has my credit card.  I’ll be back next year hoping to catch up!  This year’s winner of the random $200 drawing is Joyce Kelly. Joyce, your check is in the mail!  A short recap of this year’s ride follows.  Please also enjoy some photo highlights from this year’s PMC weekend.

Logan & Taylor with me at the (wet) P'town finish

From PMC 2011

In 1999, upon winning his first Tour de France, Lance Armstrong pledged to ride in the PMC.  12-years and 7 TdF titles later he made good on that promise.  His presence certainly amped up the crowd at the opening ceremony as well as the start line early Saturday morning.  Lance took off from in front of the crowd as soon as the start gun was fired as he no doubt wanted to avoid the mass of 3,000+ amateurs hoping to suck his wheel for as long as they could stand it. Fortunately, I “caught up” to him at around mile 25 and was able to ride with Armstrong and Senators Kerry and Brown (with Kerry on my left as always).

Day 2 started at 4:30AM in steady rain.  By the time we all made it through a cup of coffee and to the start line, the rains had essentially cleared and we were left only to deal with puddles, wet pavement, and constant “tire spit” flying in our faces.  Due to our 21+ mph avg., we managed to finish, shower, eat, and get on the road home before the real rains came.

Taking my turn pulling the pack on a wet Day 2

From PMC 2011

This year’s ride was dedicated to the memory of Bill, Dave, Elizabeth, Gordon, Irina, Jennifer, Johnny, “Coach” Johnny, John, Mike, Noah, Nora, Tyler, and William and ridden on behalf of Betty, Carolyn, Don, Jeff, Judy, Julie, Kristin, Lori, Nancy, Paul, TJ and Tracy.  Sadly, five people were added to the list in the months surrounding this year’s ride. I look forward to the day when that list no longer grows.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a link to a short video entitled What a bike was meant to do. This video best encapsulates what the PMC is about.

Thank you for your continued generosity, and see you on the road!

Can A Bicycle Cure Cancer?

The answer, of course, is absolutely not. But this August, 5,000+ cyclists will once again gather in an attempt to inch closer to an elusive cure. As one of those cyclists, I humbly ask for your support as I raise money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  I will be riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge for the 5th consecutive year – 190 miles to the tip of Cape Cod along with approximately 5,000 other cyclists from across the country and beyond. Each of us will raise over $4,200 a piece on behalf of The Jimmy Fund.

Once again, 100% of your donation will go directly toward cancer research and treatment through The Jimmy Fund. This year I will ride in memory of  Bill, Dave, Elizabeth, Gordon, Irina, Jennifer, John, “Coach” Johnny, Johnny, Noah, Nora and Tyler, and I am riding on behalf of Betty, Carolyn, Don, Jeff, Judy, Julie, Kristin, Lori, Mike, Paul, TJ and Tracy. Please let me know if there are others for whom I may ride.

Logan, Taylor and me at this year’s (very wet) Kids’ PMC, Concord, MA

Training (outdoors) year-round for rides in New England can be a challenge as the temperature and road conditions makes things interesting. In an attempt to get rid of my February legs even earlier this year, I started training for this year’s PMC by completing the annual Harpoon Brewery-to-Brewery (B2B) ride last month – 148 miles in one day, all for free beer. Why ride a few miles to the local store when you can pedal 148 to the actual brewery? This  earlier and heavier training schedule required fighting additional bed suck (when your bed pulls you under and won’t let you get out to train) as well as cashing in on even more bike coupons (certificates implicitly granted by spouses or significant others which permit participation in cycling-related activity).

As has become tradition, Taylor, with an assist from Logan, will randomly draw from a list of all donors for a chance to win $200. You can choose from one of the following, easy methods to donate:

1) Make a donation using eGifts: The following link will take you to my Pan-Mass Challenge Profile (http://www.pmc.org/egifts/HU0001), which tracks progress toward my goal. You can also go to www.pmc.org, click on eGifts and search for me by my ID (HU0001) or name to make a donation.

OR

2) Text to Give to My Ride: Just text “PMC HU0001” to 20222 to donate $10. You will receive a message asking you to confirm by replying “Yes.” It’s that easy!

OR

3) Mail in a payment: Checks can be made payable to the PMC, Jimmy Fund, DFCI, or any combination of the three (please don’t make it out to me). Please send your checks directly to me so that I can process them with the standard forms, etc. If you would prefer to send your check directly to the PMC, however, please include a note indicating you are sponsoring me and send the check to: PMC, 77 4th Avenue, Needham, MA 02494.

With the exception of 2008, both the total and average contribution by donor has risen each year. The total number of donors has remained remarkably steady while the number of repeat donors continues to increase. Let’s keep the trajectory going in the right direction!

Thank you for your continued generosity, and see you on the road!

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