By Larry Sperber
Our country and the global community are so flooded with
negativism that I often wonder about our tomorrows. The media generally reports
on sad and tragic stories: fires, hurricanes, and global warming; armed
conflict and mass shootings; crime and corruption; poverty, bigotry, and
racism; on and on. Usually our government, particularly our federal government,
neglects its responsibility to undertake remedial measures to prevent these
I recently experienced a day in the Boston area that almost
brought me to tears—tears of joy and hope and love and respect for my fellow
man and woman.
A little background: In October 2018, some five weeks shy of
my 88th birthday, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. As a
lifelong resident and careerist in the Greater Boston community, I placed my
care in the hands of the doctors and staff of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute
and their surgical colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I underwent
surgery on Nov. 1.
Six weeks later, I mounted my bicycle for a short ride. I
have been an avid cyclist for some 40 years, though shorter and slower rides as
time passed. Over the next months, I spent many hours at the hospital
undergoing tests, checkups, and consultations. I was overwhelmed by the vast
number of patients with similar experiences.
For years I was aware of the Pan Mass Challenge, a bicycle
event to raise money for Dana Farber. Now it became very personal. So I signed
up to ride a 25-mile segment. I sent letters to 46 friends, family members,
classmates, and former clients to request financial sponsorship of my ride. I
am in awe of the results; 40 contributions raised almost $14,000.
On Friday, Aug. 2, I registered at the ride headquarters at
Babson College in Wellesley. On Sunday, Aug. 4, I presented myself at the
“starting gate” at Babson. Other venues had starting times as well. I learned
that there were more than 4,000 riders. Some rode more than 100 miles. I was
overwhelmed by the many hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteers who helped to
raise $60 million for treatment and research at Dana Farber. I was more
overwhelmed by the thousands of cyclist participants who participated from near
and far, young and old (I was the eldest). The spirit at the start and during
the many hours of riding was truly remarkable. The support and encouragement I
received en-route were heartwarming.
I was so moved emotionally by the show of community support
for one another and for the very worthy institution Dana Farber. It was a
remarkable odyssey for me. After so much negativism lately, the Pan Mass
Challenge reinforced and renewed my respect and affection for my new “friends”
who participated in the Challenge whether as volunteers, riders, or financial
supporters and sponsors of the riders, some 350,000 strong. It was mankind and
womankind at their best!
Larry Sperber has been
a resident of Eastman since 1981. He is an avid golfer, routinely playing in
Eastman Golf Links events.
Note: Find more
information about the Pan Mass Challenge at www.pmc.org.