For those of you not familiar, the Pan-Mass Challenge is the largest and most successful athletic fundraising organization and event in the country, and likely the world. My families involvement with the PMC goes back many years as donors and supporters. Ironically, as much as we wanted to, we had never been able to participate as riders or volunteers because August was when we would take our family vacation which, for 14 years were cyclotouring trips! Ellen and I began taking short overnight trips with Jared and Adam in bike seats when they were 4 and 2 years old. After a couple of years they graduated to being able to ride on their own and the trips got longer and more challenging. Our last was an 1100 mile tour of Denmark and southern Sweden in 1999.

2004 marked our first Pan Mass as riders and volunteers, after our son and brother Jared was diagnosed with spinal/cranial tumors. Later that fall I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After surgery and treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute I am fully recovered. Jared's battle with cancer began in 2003 after his junior year at Alfred University/NYS College Of Ceramics. After fighting this terrible disease for almost 2 1/2 years, Jared passed away on September 27, 2005. He was 23 years old. Jared was an artist of extraordinary ability and passion. He was an athlete and league champion in wrestling, track, and soccer. He was a scholar of art history, hispanic culture and was fluent in Spanish. Jared endured the most rigorous treatments at the Jimmy Fund Clinic and Children's Hospital Boston, all the while maintaining his kindness, his positive outlook, and living his life to the fullest. The care and compassion that Jared received there and that we received there to this day was, and remains, extraordinary.

After our second PMC we formed Team Kermit. The team is named for Kermit the Frog of Sesame Street fame. Kermit was one of Jared's favorite childhood characters and represents the ability that people have to rise above the ordinary in order to achieve great results. Kermit's theme It's not easy being green became Jared's mantra and helped him endure and even laugh through the often grueling treatments. Jared was the epitome of determination, resolve, dedication, bravery, and passion. Kermit inspired Jared and reminded him and all of us that we are limited only by our own dreams and desires. 

Ellen, Adam, and I rode in Jared's honor and memory along with 15 other dear friends as Team Kermit. Later that year we established the Jared Branfman Sunflowers For Life Fund For Pediatric Brain And Spinal Cancer Research at the Jimmy Fund. All the money raised by Team Kermit goes through the PMC and into Jared's fund. It supports research into the type of disease that Jared had and is helping to make the dream of no more cancer a reality. It is a fitting legacy to Jared's wish to help others. Click on this link to learn about Jared's Fund: resources/Team_Kermit/SunflowersFundDescripCurrent.pdf

If you are moved by our story, please support our efforts for the pediatric cancer community. Click on this link to make a safe and secure tax deductible donation: 

Thank you and love to all,,,