It's time to ride for a cure.
And that's a big reason Bob Messier takes to the open road on his bike every summer to help make a difference in the lives of those battling cancer.
Messier of Derry is one of more than 6,200 cyclists from 40 states and eight countries that will participate in this weekend's Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), an annual summer bike ride that raises millions to critical research and cancer care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
That pack includes riders from all over southern New Hampshire participating in the ride Aug. 5 and 6 with the goal of raising $48 million to support Dana-Farber.
During PMC weekend, cyclists come to Massachusetts to participate in the benefit ride, choosing from 12 routes of varying mileage running through 46 towns. Cyclists are anywhere between 15- and 84-years-old and range from seasoned triathletes to weekend warriors who trained for this event alone and everything in between.
For Messier, it's this annual bike ride that means a lot. And doing his part to help others is something Messier takes to heart in many ways. His mother died of cancer in 1990, and he lost a brother-in-law to cancer. There are also other family members and friends Messier wants to honor through his PMC ride.
"You remember these things," he said.
Many riders participate in the PMC to honor a family member or friend lost to, or being treated for, cancer. More than 600 riders and volunteers are cancer survivors or current patients. The average cyclist trains for several months, solicits sponsors and raises thousands. Volunteers, spectators, donors and sponsors are part of the camaraderie on ride weekend, all working together toward a cure.
That's the annual legacy the Galluzzo family of Londonderry wants to accomplish this year, participating in the PMC as riders and volunteers.
Kim Galluzzo said it's an annual trek that forms family bonds and supports a great cause as cancer hit close to this family's home.
One of seven children, she said four brothers and two sisters have ridden the PMC. Kim volunteers at the Challenge. This year, her mother, Donna, is also a rider.
The Galluzzo family tradition has lasted decades, and now members ride to honor the memory of Anthony Galluzzo, an avid PMC rider who lost his battle with cancer in 2006.
"Dana-Farber kept him with us a lot longer," Kim said of her father. "We were lucky to have him and hope what we're doing can help another family. That's why we ride."
Messier said it's something wonderful that happens when riders gather for the PMC.
"It's very difficult to explain unless you do it," he said. "I'm 71 years old, I'm not the best rider, but you get on the bike, you get on the road, you just can't explain it. You can't believe the energy."
In addition to his work for the Jimmy Fund, Messier travels to Boston on a regular basis to donate platelets for the youngest cancer patients.
The PMC is set to once again raise millions this month.
“We are thrilled to be approaching our 38th PMC ride weekend," said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC. "Seeing our growth over the years has been truly incredible and we look forward to achieving our fundraising goal of $48 million for Dana-Farber."
No other single athletic event raises or contributes more money to charity than the PMC. Since 1980, the PMC has raised $547 million dollars for Dana-Farber through the Jimmy Fund, its fundraising arm. PMC is actually Dana-Farber’s largest single contributor, raising more than 52 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue.
In addition to Messier, Derry's PMC representatives include John Taylor, Joshua Bourdon, Carol White, Lauren Guertin, Stephanie Howard, and Laura Charewicz.
Londonderry cyclists are John Galluzzo, Kim Galluzzo, Matt Galluzzo, Donna Galluzzo and Dominic Galluzzo, joined on the ride by fellow Londonderry residents Kerin O'Brien, James Mullett, John Limongelli and Adam Danuea.
Windham riders are Robert Schenk, Jerry Robinson, Shawn Mullen, David Hunt, Len Scherer, Bob Dolan, David Holding, Natalie Westfall, Lisa Mullen and Angela Sullivan.
Many other area towns in southern New Hampshire are also represented on the PMC trail this weekend including: Salem — Stephen Thayer, Michael Doiron, Deborah Overdeput, Hugo Overdeput, Todd Gagnon, and Dana Tarlow; Hampstead — Jim Wilkinson and Kurt West; East Kingston — Craig Taylor; Plaistow — Victoria McLeod and Jerry Lovett; Pelham — David Belleville, Marc Burke, Tyler Miranda, Kevin O'Sullivan and Steven Travaglini and Atkinson — Jon Vaillancourt, Tom Vaillancourt, Philippa MIddleton, Keith Boyle, Bob Vaillancourt and Holly Patterson.
For more information on the Pan-Mass Challenge, log onto www.pmc.org.