It’s a long road


I sent out my annual PMC letter yesterday, and it stirred up many emotions. The short of it is that there is nothing easy about fundraising. I’m a very happy giver, but this has not yet translated into making me a very happy asker. Asking for help is hard, especially if you’re like me and tend to walk through life as a solo warrior.

I have learned a lot by riding in the PMC. This is my 11th year (sent out my letter thinking it was my 10th…guess I’m doomed to always suck at math), and what I realized is that I will pretty much do anything if I feel strongly about it, including sending out my fundraising letter year after year. I will blog about it, I will share it on facebook, and I will send out the letter again because all I can think is ‘what happens if I stop?’.

I’m just one person out of so many people who is raising money for cancer research and development. The progress will not stop if I gracefully bow out and exit stage left. There will always be work with regards to fundraising, and maybe it doesn’t matter if I am the fundraiser or the fund-giver. When I ask myself this question, however, the answer is always ‘yes…it matters’.  My brain is incapable of exploring what that shift would look like or feel like. For me, for how I’m wired, ‘stopping’ is simply not an option. If I can get myself on a bike, I’m going to ride, and if I’m going to ride, I am going to use it as a vehicle to give back.

The riding is the easy part: I love training with my team or solo on my Peloton. I take my job of Captain Electrolyte very seriously and enjoy being able to dole out Sports Legs or SaltSticks to anyone in need. I love packing as light as possible for PMC weekend, playing an internal game of ‘I win’ when I see other PMC’ers lugging huge bags from their dorms to the trucks. (Not nice, I know. I’m cursed and will make anything competitive, from yoga to scooping coconut macaroons. Thankfully, those who really love me do so knowing my fatal flaws). Not surprising to those who know me well, I also love shopping for new bike gear. The miles on the road are so much easier when you look as good as anyone can look in clothing that is always far too tight.

Here’s what’s hard: Thinking about the reality of cancer. Seeing the posters and pictures of people who are either currently fighting cancer or who lost the battle breaks my heart each and every time. When I gaze at the back of another rider’s PMC shirt decorated with strips of ribbon with people’s names on each piece of ribbon, my throat closes and I am thankful I can look down and hide my tears with sunglasses & sweat. The extent of destruction caused by this disease is unavoidable. Riding in the PMC gives me the opportunity to join thousands of others to celebrate, to remember and to feel that deep sense of gratification that comes with taking action. When I think of things in this light, sending out my letter is really a gift, not a hardship.


Here’s my letter. Please read it, please consider making a donation, please consider sharing this with anyone who you think would like the opportunity to take action with me. In honor of my ‘2nd’ 10th year, I am doing something special. Read below to find out more.

The Letter:

It’s PMC time again, and this year is a big one.


Because it’s my tenth year of riding in the PMC.

Because my small but mighty bike team, Team Crank, has a donor who is matching our fundraising efforts up to $50,000. Every dollar you donate will have double the impact.

Because we have TWO Pedal Partners this year: Grant, age 6, is fighting T-Cell Acute Lymphoma Leukemia, which is more rare and requires more intensive treatment than the more common type of leukemia.Tommy, age 10, is fighting Pediatric Low Grade Astrocytoma (PLGA), a brain tumor which he has been fighting since the age of 3 as well as Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML).

Each and every time I am lucky enough to get on my bike, I am never alone. In fact, it’s a crowded space. I carry with me all those we’ve lost to cancer. I carry their heartbroken families. I carry our survivors.

As I prepare for my 10th ride, my mind travels back over the years, remembering the countless number of people I have been blessed to either know or hear about through the cancer connection. I think of our successes, our setbacks, and the breakthroughs we’ve made. I think about the countless number of times I have written names on ribbons and pinned them to the back of my PMC shirt, a visual reminder of why I ride in the PMC.

This year, in honor of those I ride for, I am having my bike inscribed with the names of our fighters, our survivors, and our beautiful souls gone too soon. Here’s what I need from you: Please consider making a donation to my ride, and email me with the name(s) you would like me to add to my bike. I promise you, they are always in my heart, and now they will travel with me every ride I take.

I would like to thank every person who has helped me make it to this milestone. I am eternally grateful to everyone who has supported my rides in the past. Without you and your ongoing, generous support, none of this would have been possible.

Please donate to my PMC ride at one of the following links:

Click here to make $25 donation

Click here to make a $50 donation

Click here to make a $100 donation

Click here to make a $250 donation

Click here to make a $500 donation

Click here to make a $1,000 donation

You can also send a check made out to the PMC to my home address:

Karen Collins
363 Middle Road
Boxborough, MA 01719

Yes, the road has been long, but because of you and your support, I have never been alone.

With gratitude




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