BOSTON (CBS) — The Pan-Mass Challenge is a fundraising event unlike any other, raising millions of dollars for cancer research.
Some riders are identified with the words “Living Proof,” cancer survivors who ride who are “living proof” of the power of putting time and energy in addition to money toward finding a cure.
Jack Manning of Norfolk is gearing up and getting ready in bitter cold, snow still on the ground, training for his first Pan-Mass Challenge.
“To be part of it helping all the cancer patients and celebrating the survivors especially, the kids that have to go through it,” Manning said.
Jack knows because he’s been through it. He lost his leg to bone cancer when he was 8 years old. A year of chemotherapy left him weak and unsure he’d be able to continue doing what he loved.
“I remember thinking if I could play sports again. It took a year to learn to run. I had to take a year off from baseball so I think it’s important for them to see you can still play sports.”
So Jack ran and demonstrated how athletic he could be with his new prosthesis in a video for Children’s Hospital. He admits, recovery was a long, tough road.
“The physical therapy and the recovery was really hard. It was really difficult getting back up and walking.”
Competitive and determined, Jack played baseball, tennis, golf, and now football for the Roxbury Latin School.
When he reflects on his son’s journey, dad Vince’s voice is filled with admiration.
“The determination and perseverance are who he is, the cancer and surgery is not – that doesn’t define him,” his father said.
At 16, Jack will ride the 192-mile course for the first time alongside his dad who’s ridden every year since he started “Team Jack” in 2009.
“Jack hit it when he drafted up his profile page he rides and we do this so nobody has to go through it again,” Vince said.
He went on to describe what it is about the PMC experience that makes it so special.
“When Jack finished treatment we had a party, a celebration of life. For me, that’s what the PMC weekend is, it’s a celebration of life and specifically for us it’s a celebration of Jack and everything that he’s gone through and that we’ve gone through.”
Jack’s mom Elizabeth admits to being a little nervous about the training, but she and Jack’s brother Matthew will be there for the emotional moment to greet him after the grueling two-day ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown.
“He’s met every challenge,” she says, “he works hard at everything he wants to do so I’m not worried he’ll do great.”
For Jack, the reason for all the effort is very simple.
“The Jimmy Fund can use a lot of money – there’s never until there’s a cure for cancer they can always use more to help the people who are going through it.”
His message to other survivors is hopeful and profound.
“It does get better – you can do anything you try to do. It’s more of a physical challenge and an opportunity to help other people going through it and it’s awful going through it so I don’t want them to have to suffer.”
On Saturday, May 17, at the Walpole Country Club, the Team Jack will host its third annual Cocktails for a Cure fundraiser to raise money toward its PMC fundraising campaign. The evening will include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and silent auction items, including sports tickets, travel vouchers, gift cards to local restaurants, wine baskets and sports memorabilia. Tickets are $50 at the door.
It is important to note, the PMC is not a race and participants can register to ride up until July 15. Visit pmc.org for more information or to register.
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