In music, there’s the Beatles. In soccer, Messi.
In fundraising, the Pan-Mass Challenge stands far above all others. The Massachusetts bike ride earns more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the US. Since 1980, it’s donated $900 million to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Last year alone, it was $65 million.
And in the Pan-Mass Challenge, Team Velominati is the Beatles and Messi, rolled into one.
The group — many of them Westporters — raised $675,000. Last year.
Bill Loftus — the founder of Coastal Bridge Advisers, a Wilton Road wealth management firm — is a crucial part of the team. He joined a few years ago.
Instantly, he was hooked.
Bill is one of 2,500 riders going the full distance: 112 miles from Sturbridge to Bourne on Saturday; then another 90 miles to Provincetown the next day.
Another 3,500 ride shorter distances, for one day.
Up to a quarter of all riders are cancer survivors.
“The human spirit is on full display,” Bill says. “It feels like the entire state is cheering us on.” Streets are filled with spectators. Bands play; cowbells ring.
The energy of the crowd — and the camaraderie of the riders — keeps him going.
Team Velominati always looks for new members. (The group rides in other fundraisers too, like the Bloomin’ Metric. They ski together too, in winter. But the Pan-Mass Challenge is the big one.)
Each team member commits to raising at least $6,500. Some do far more.
Bill notes that 100% of all funds go directly to cancer research. There are only a few paid staff members for the entire Challenge — and their salaries are covered by corporate sponsors.
“When I started, I wondered how I could give up a weekend in the summer,” Bill says.
“But never once did I feel like I missed anything. This is the best possible use of my time. It’s the best weekend of the year.”
(To learn more about the Pan-Mass Challenge — and how to join Team Velominati — email firstname.lastname@example.org.)