Betsy and Sean Duffy, Warren, started volunteering at the Pan-Mass Challenge 20 years ago and since then their family has grown and everyone helps out for the once-a-year service trip to Massachusetts.
The Pan-Mass Challenge is an annual bike ride that takes place throughout Massachusetts and raises money for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Institute. It raises the most money of any athletic fundraising event in the country and hosts more that 6,000 bikers in one weekend. Riders can choose from an array of rides from 47 to 111 miles.
Betsy, along with her husband, Sean, and her three kids, Danny, Drew and Anna, will be traveling to Massachusetts to serve all of these bikers lunch at the Dighton-Rehoboth High School.
When the Duffy family began volunteering at the Pan-Mass Challenge the event only had around 3,000 riders and since then they have seen it grow to 6,500 riders. While it used to be a one-day event for the family, it has expanded into two days because there is more setup involved with more riders.
Betsy worked for a catering company in Massachusetts when she was approached about volunteering for the first time. She brought experience from the food distribution business to expedite the process at the lunch stop.
There are many stops throughout all of the rides, but their stop is the only one that serves the riders an actual meal, Danny said. He has been volunteering since he was about 7 years old and he can only recall missing one year while he was on the U.S. Ski Team.
Danny is about to enter his sophomore year at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
Danny’s brother Drew, who is currently on the U.S. Ski Team, is flying home on Friday to take part in this year’s event, just before he travels to Chile for a training camp.
“It’s an awesome experience,” Danny said. Everyone who rides and volunteers has a lot of fun and when people hear about it they always want to come along with the family.
A few have joined in. Sarah McHugh has been volunteering with the Duffys for the past five years and will be again this year.
Betsy always included her kids in the volunteer opportunity and she even volunteered while pregnant with Anna, who is now 15.
Every dollar that the event raises goes directly to the charity because of the amount of support that the event sees from not only the riders but also a long list of sponsors.