Pan Mass riders support causes near and dear
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John Pericolo of Weymouth is a father, cancer survivor, chef, and account manager for a private aviation catering company. He plans to ride in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge next month for the first time, with high school buddies.
Investment banker Neil Goldberg, 54, of Westwood, is a 14-year veteran of the ride, and a past and current cancer patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Sarah Marchisio of Rochester enters the University of Vermont this fall and is riding in memory of her late mother and father, her mother having succumbed to cervical cancer two years ago, her father to a heart attack this year.
They are three compelling stories in a field of 5,500 riders embarking on the 190-mile PMC next Saturday and Sunday to raise money for Dana-Farber’s cancer research and treatment through its Jimmy Fund, which has raised nearly $340 million since 1980.
The 34-year-old Pericolo said he had a bike for 10 years, but “was never the type to ride, per se,” adding that his buddies from Malden Catholic High School were into it and got him up and going. He is part of Team Lancers Against Cancer, four men who have all been directly or indirectly affected by cancer.
In 2010, Pericolo was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, “living in the hospital for a month” for treatment, he said. Teammate Steve Galante, 34, of Wakefield, lost his mother to breast cancer. Tim Finn, 33, of Medford, is the son of a cancer survivor. The sister and sister-in-law of Steve Gentzler, 35, of Peabody, are each battling different forms of cancer.
The men remained close since high school, through good times and bad, Pericolo said, and train together when schedules allow.
This year’s race with be the 15th for Goldberg, an investment banker who has raised more than a quarter-million dollars through his efforts over that time. He has been in treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Dana-Farber off and on since 2005.
The disease “gets quiet, gets noisy, and then quiet again,” he said. “It has a life of its own.”
But battling cancer again, he said, “redoubles your commitment when you see where the money’s going,” adding that his view of Dana-Farber began in 1999 from the outside and continues “with an inside view again.”
His father, who died at 57, got him into biking, Goldberg said.
“We did our first 100 miles together when I was 13 — we had a lot of good miles,” Goldberg said of his father, who died from bladder cancer in 1986. “He was the first and most important reason I’m doing this.”
Goldberg’s whole family is involved in the event. His wife, Andrea, and his son Gabriel, 16, will be volunteers on ride support for the fifth year. His other son, Joshua, 19, will be riding for the fifth time.
Through his experience at Dana-Farber, Goldberg developed a friendship with his physician, David Fisher, and together they ride on Team Flames, a squad of doctors, nurses, and cancer survivors. Dr. Dan DeAngelis from Dana-Farber is on the team and had told Goldberg how, thanks to seed money raised by the race, Dana-Farber doctors can determine if a bone marrow transplant will work in a specific patient with 80 percent certainty.
“When you see something like Dan’s research,” Goldberg said, “you see the result of what you’re doing in a tangible way.”
The 17-year-old Marchisio will ride this year in honor of her late mother, Nancy.
On June 20, 2009, the day of her daughter’s birthday, Nancy Marchisio was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“She was the most phenomenal woman,” Sarah said. “She was a stay-at-home mom, with three college degrees, and was involved in everything. She was always a caregiver for the elderly in our family and friends.”
Sarah will be riding with her cousin Beth Peucker, 22, of Stoughton.
The idea of Team Girls on a Mission came to the cousins in February this year, when Peucker told her cousin, “I’m not gonna let you ride alone.” There was no question they would do it after Marchisio’s father, who was an avid cyclist and got his daughter into the sport, died of a heart attack a month later.
The ride goes by Sarah’s home, she said. She and her cousin are hanging a banner in front of the house with 190 names of people who have been touched by the disease, to honor their battles. The banner will have a ribbon over each mile marker, “as we will be riding a mile for another person,” Marchisio said.
New to the event this year will be the PMC Patriot Place Kids Ride, one of 35 rides held in neighborhoods throughout New England, which is expected to attract more than 6,000 cyclists from the ages of 3 to 14, riding up to 26 miles in mini bike-a-thons to raise money.Continued...