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Friday Night: PMC Opening Ceremonies

Friday, August 1, 2003

Once my bike and bag were in Steve's car, we had to go straight into the huge conference room (at the Sturbridge Host Hotel) for the start of the opening ceremonies. Since I was the 'newbie', Steve gave me his aisle seat next to Jim (straight across from Chris) and found another seat for himself somewhere else.

The opening ceremony was quite impressive. Speakers included Billy Starr (the founder), the president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who promised Billy that he wouldn't thank the riders too much but then did it anyway (and apologized to Billy for lying), the Vice President of the Red Sox (presenting sponsors of the PMC this year), Asia Magrib (extreme skier), and even Senator (and presidential candidate) John Kerry! There was also a live band -- a very good live band -- whose name I didn't catch but whose lead singer is "a survivor."

The entire event was carried live on New England Cable News, and (supposedly) watched by more than two million people.

Unfortunately, most of what they said didn't stick in my head. It was primarily a high-energy pep talk and fundraising telethon. We clapped a lot, both when told to by the off-camera director, and whenever anyone mentioned helping children (which annoyed me a little). I do remember that children-with-cancer survivor rates have increased from 20% in 1980 (first PMC) to 80% in 2003, in part due to new treatments developed at Dana-Farber. John Kerry gave the only campaign speech I've ever attended, and it was totally off the cuff.

The opening ceremony was very flashy and impressive. From NECN's huge camera crew with the amazing "boom camera" that must be seen to be believed, to the dual, massive video screens mounted at the front of the room, to the pump-you-up speeches and videos, it was all designed to make us feel very proud of participating in the PMC.

As distasteful as I normally find that sort of thing, I'm happy to say that it worked. I walked out of the opening ceremony with an event-induced buzz, ready to find -- sure that we'd find -- the ultimate cure for cancer somewhere along the roadside between Sturbridge and Provincetown.

Page last updated: 8/9/2004

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