The 190-mile challenge Jennifer and Brigit Hogan have undertaken is astounding. “Daunting” is the word Jennifer uses to describe it.
“When you get to 60 miles, there’s so much pain,” Brigit said Monday from the family’s front step in the highlands. “You just want to stop.”
But they don’t. Driven on by the thought of friends and family members who have survived cancer and those who haven’t, the mother and daughter team keeps riding, training for hours a day over the past few months.
“I just keep thinking of all those people who’ve gone through cancer and survived. What they’ve gone through is 100 percent worse,” Brigit said. “Someone pops into your head and you push through.”
The duo is riding the Pan Mass Challenge, a two-day, 190-mile bike ride that brings together more than 5,000 riders from around the world to cover the distance between Provincetown to Sturbridge to raise funds for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.
Jennifer has done it once before, in 2007, with husband Jeff Hogan.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “Brigit had heard me talking about it and put out the challenge to me.”
“Mom and I had always talked about doing something together – something big,” Brigit said.
Plus, she had grown up with the ride.
The Pan Mass Challenge passed by the house Jennifer’s mom lived in on Cape Cod, where the family lived when Brigit was young. They would go out on Sunday morning each year, sit on a fence and cheer on the riders as they passed by.
Hundreds of people line the route to cheer, Jennifer said, describing her experience on the ride.
“There are a lot of cancer survivors and kids in treatment,” she explained. “And there are signs that say so-and-so is up ahead and so-and-so is alive because of you.
“And I remember all these signs saying we’re heroes for riding but I always thought the opposite. These people go through treatment and tremendous suffering – they’re really the heroes."
But the ride does save lives. The Pan Mass Challenge is the single largest athletic fundraiser, having raised $338 million for cancer treatment and research since its founding 33 years ago. Riders are required to raise at least $4,300 just to sign up. Jennifer and Brigit have, thanks to many great friends, already done that. Now, they’re looking for $3,000 more in the next two weeks to reach their goal of $13,000.
To do it, Naples Pizza has agreed to hold a PMC fundraising night on Thursday, July 19. All day, the restaurant will donate a portion of proceeds to support the Hogans.
Brigit said they were amazed the restaurant offered to run the fundraiser all day.
It’s not the only generosity the pair has received. Local businesswoman Joan Valenti got them started with a $5,000 donation. Since then, Brigit said, she likes to kid about asking friends to match it. But, as Jennifer said, every dollar counts.
And some of the donations are in memory of those who have battled cancer, too. Someone recently gave the pair a donation in memory of the late Judge William Wollenberg, who died July 2. Jennifer said she will also be thinking of him as she rides.
The ride runs Aug. 4 and 5.