Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our continued involvement...

The last day to donate to our team for the 2008 PMC ended yesterday with several last minute online donations.  We broke the $85,000 mark and couldn't be more thrilled.  Thank you!  As always, if you would like to donate to the Jimmy Fund you can do so online at www.jimmyfund.org.  

August and September also proved to be productive months for us as we were featured in the New York Times and In Town Westchester Magazine (October Issue) to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.  Additionally, on October 3rd, Justin will be featured on Middays with Meg Miller on WVOX (1460 AM) in New Rochelle to discuss the Pan USA Challenge.

Although Jamie is currently in Rome on a term abroad, he and Justin have discussed how they plan to stay involved in the cancer fundraising community in the "PMC off-season."  Justin will be giving a speech at the 2nd annual gala for the In The Pink Foundation in mid-October and hopes that some volunteer work will follow either at In The Pink, or perhaps Gilda's Club.  Jamie plans to stay involved once he returns to Hartford for his spring semester at Trinity College.  As always, we'll keep you posted on what's happening with us and our continuous efforts to help in the cancer community.       

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

over $80,000!

Thanks for everyone who has donated to the Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in support of our Pan USA Challenge. At this point we have raised over $80,000. This exceeds our original goal of $75,000 and we couldn't be happier.

We couldn't have done it without you. Now just stay tuned for our next cross-USA endeavor before the 2009 PMC. This time we'll start in Alaska...just kidding!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting closer everyday...

Hey all, since our successful (and surreal) completion of the Pan Mass Challenge, we have been distributing Pan USA Challenge t-shirts, awareness wristbands and chillin' like whoah. As you can see from our donation page, we are just about at $60,000, with some more checks that have yet to be processed. The fundraising deadline is Sept 30th and we're still hoping we can fly past the $75,000 mark.

Basically, if you have yet to donate and would like to, then ya gotta act fast! For those who already did, we truly appreciate the support and your donations will go to great use for research and treatment of children and adults with cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Thanks again - we couldn't have done it without you.

- Justin and Jamie (the dudes with the awesome beards!)

Also, keep an eye out for us in upcoming local newspapers and magazines where we discuss our journey and our fundraising efforts along the way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We made it to P-town!!! 4300 miles!

We finished the 2008 Pan Massachusetts Challenge in Provincetown, MA this past Sunday. Riding with 5,000 other cyclists was very exciting and we treated the two-day 200 mile fundraising ride as our victory lap for the Pan USA Challenge.

When we arrived in Sturbridge, MA for the start of the PMC weekend we were immediately thrilled to be among so many other cyclists adamant about riding and, more importantly, about fundraising for cancer. For those cyclists out there, you already know that you are part of a very strong and friendly community of fellow cyclists. If you couple that sense of community with the pro-cancer research community then the PMC is what you get – it is like nothing else we’ve ever been a part of. The comfortable sense of belong that Jamie and I feel is truly indescribable. Jamie’s first words at the opening ceremonies were “This is awesome, dude. I’m a PMC’er for life.”

At 6am Saturday morning we were off to Cape Cod with the other cyclists, all donning the 2008 PMC jersey to heighten the sense of unification – it’s like an army of cancer fundraisers – check out some of the pics on the blog. As we rode along people noticed us from the mention we got at the opening ceremonies and they asked all about our trip. The most common response from other riders was something along the lines of “Ugh, I really wish I could do that. That’s really inspiring, congratulations!” The recognition was really rewarding for us.

Sunday we rode over the Bourne bridge onto Cape Cod and snaked along 6A to Provincetown, MA, which was the very very end. In fact, you cannot go any further and we just couldn’t believe we were almost done. We were welcomed to P-town by a beautifully orchestrated welcoming committee of friends and family wearing our Pan USA t-shirts and holding a huge “MEROLLA!” sign. Our 4,300th mile rolling into P-town on what would have been Susan Merolla’s 56th birthday was the proudest moment of our lives. We threw fist pumps, we laughed, we cried and oh man did we celebrate.

We really cannot thank our supportive friends and family enough, you know who you are. This would not have been possible without y’all.

And now for the icing on the cake, please help us reach our fundraising goal of $75,000. Please continue to share our story with family and friends. T-shirts are also still available for purchase (with all proceeds going towards our fundraising goal).

Stay tuned for more updates (photos, fundraising progress, etc.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Made it to the start of the PMC

The last three days from Larchmont through Connecticut and into our last state were very exciting as we ramped up to the PMC. We rode into Sturbridge and saw all the "Welcome Pan Mass Riders!" signs, which reminded us that we are more than just a cross-USA team of two. We are part of something bigger - the universal fight against cancer for the universal cure.

We cannot wait to attend the opening ceremonies tonight to see the other 5,000 cyclists riding with us to Provincetown over the next two days. This weekend, sharing stories and motivations with fellow PMC riders while rolling through Massachusetts will undoubtedly be the most rewarding part of our journey. Celebrating our final day of riding on what would have been our mother's birthday this Sunday will be pretty special, as well.

Thanks to everyone for all of the love and support over the last two months and 4,100 miles. Also, this is not the last weekend to donate - donations can still be made through September.

192 miles to go!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Home is where the heart is – Larchmont!!!

We got our first whiffs of salt water from the Atlantic this week, which was pretty surreal. When we rolled through Annapolis, MD and crossed over the Chesapeake Bay it really started to feel like we were almost done. We ran into a minor speed bump, however, when the Maryland DOT informed us that we couldn’t ride on the Bay Bridge so we had to resort to plan B: defy gravity and ride across the water on our bikes. Despite our best efforts we quickly discovered that our bikes actually don’t float so we had to resort to plan C; We would sit in front of a gas station with our best “damsel in distress” faces on until a friendly guy (and former cyclist) on his lunch break would realize that we might need a lift over the bridge and then he would offer to put our bikes in the back of his minivan. It’s almost too easy… Remarkably, everything went according to plan.

We entered Delaware slightly ahead of schedule so we made the past few days shorter so we could rest up a little bit while still making forward progress. Ben had to bail on us shortly after Annapolis but lucky for us, Jamie’s girlfriend, Stephanie, met us and took our trailers the rest of the way to the LMont. Even luckier for us, Stephanie’s mom makes the best eggplant parm in the world and helped provide some wonderful hospitality in New Hope, PA.

I Love NY. We left Newark, NJ (which is wonderful this time of year…if you carry pepper spray) Saturday morning and rode the Riverside Bike Path all along Manhattan. At one point we saw a plane landing at Newark Airport and Jamie looked over at me and said “Hmm, now a plane would have been much easier!” Perhaps the best one-liner of the trip, especially because it helped put the distance we had ridden into perspective. That plane may have left from San Fran 6 hours ago, but we left San Fran 56 days ago. Once we stopped for photos with the Statue of Liberty in the background we were thrilled and it began to dawn on us that we were finally in NYC. We asked a fellow cyclist to take a picture of us and while he was snapping away we said “Hey man, you want to hear something absolutely ridiculous? We rode here from the Golden Gate Bridge.” He responded with the second best one-liner of the trip: “Whoa dudes. I rode from 112th Street and I thought that was far.”

By the the day we rode into Larchmont we had seen and done almost everything except today, one of the most memorable days of the trip, wouldn’t be complete without one of us totally wiping out in the middle of the street in the Bronx. It would have to be about 3,995 miles into the trip to yield just the right amount of sweet irony. I volunteered to check this wipeout off the list. I wasn’t hurt physically but my pride was badly damaged. Who would have thought that trying to hop over a little curb to avoid a red light could be so devastating? I’m all good though, thanks for asking.

When we started to spin through the familiar streets of Larchmont we became pretty giddy and even took a few videos while riding down Larchmont Avenue to document it. The last time we were riding here we were training with the trailers and had the entire trip ahead of us. It feels good to be on this end of the trek. It feels even better to have family and friends to share the giddiness and excitement with. We arrived in Manor Park and rode straight to the well, which was dedicated to our mother, and a memorial bench, which was dedicated to our father. We were greeted there by Spencer and a bunch of friends. We rode through the finish line, which was made out of “Happy Birthday” wrapping paper and enjoyed some cheering and congratulating. It only took a second or two for our beards to become the primary target for everyone’s merciless banter. We couldn’t help but laugh along and even make a few jokes ourselves. It was the happiest moment we’d had in 56 days.

Rest time ‘til Tuesday, then we make our way up to Massachusetts for the 2008 Pan Mass Challenge…look it up!

Also, if you are interested in a Pan USA Challenge t-shirt, bearing a similar logo to that at the top of the blog, just leave a comment on the blog with your email address and we’ll instruct you from there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ben is back in town! (oh yeah, and we're almost home)

We met up with Ben half-way through our day in Christiansburg, VA and he is now driving all our gear for us. Not having the trailers makes a world of difference. Ben, you’re the man now dog! We can now average around 15mph instead of 11mph and that has made the days feel much shorter. It’s also a lot more fun to have some snap in your legs and feel like you’re riding a bike again, instead of feeling like you’re just towing an anchor around.

After dinner in Lexington, VA we began to plan out our route for the final days coming into Larchmont and it dawned on us that we are less than a week away. Even if we trim down the mileage to help save our legs (we are still really sore!) we can still arrive in the LMont by Saturday the 26th. Hard to believe that only 51 days ago we were under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with 0 miles in our legs and 4300 miles left to go. We are now within 500 miles of home in Larchmont and less than 1,000 from the finish line of the PMC in Provincetown August 3rd.

We are taking a rest day in Fredericksburg, VA, our first full rest day in about 13 days, and we look forward to chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool, shootin’ some bball outside of the school, ya dig? Actually we’re just going to see a movie and hit up the local bike shop, maybe even Bed Bath & Beyond, but I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

The rest day could not have come at a better time because we are now finally over the last mountains of the trip. The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia were our last hurdle, but they were tough. When we ran into cross-country cyclists in Utah they warned us about the climb out of Vesuvius, VA so it daunted us for weeks. When we arrived at the base of the climb we gave Ben the thumbs up, thanked him (again) for taking our trailers, flipped on our favorite pump-up mixes on our iPods – Jamie’s is Phill Collins’ Greatest Hits and mine is that song from Billy Madison, “I’ll Tumble For Ya” on repeat – just kidding. After 2.5 miles up switchbacks averaging an 11% grade we were wiped. It was also a scorcher and we sweat like whoa. At the top of the climb we were drenched in sweat but we were relieved to know we had completed the last of the tough climbs.

As we climb the tough stuff and grind our teeth up the hills, we often use that time to remind ourselves what we’re suffering for. We are suffering for the cancer cause and the harder the riding is, the better we feel about our efforts in the fight against cancer. Getting to the top of a climb like that out of Vesuvius, VA makes us feel victorious, like we’ve made a small step in the fight and part of us wishes there were more mountains left to climb. We also think a lot about our parents and how we wish they could be at the finish line in Provincetown on our mother’s birthday. We are riding for them and having them in our minds and in our hearts has helped make even the Blue Ridge Mountains seem flat.