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Local men take on Pan-Mass Challenge

Date: 8/2/2011

Aug. 3, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

GREATER SPRINGFIELD — Two local cyclists are gearing up to hit the pavement for a purpose this weekend.

Lenny Bruso of Feeding Hills and Michael Moses of Southwick will both spend Aug. 6 and 7 pedaling across the state to raise money for cancer research as part of the annual Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC).

The two-day event, which contributes 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar to the Jimmy Fund to support cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, begins on Aug. 6 in Sturbridge or Wellesley and ends in Provincetown — or one of four other finish lines.

Founded in Springfield in 1980 by Billy Starr and a dozen friends in honor of his mother, uncle and cousin — all victims of cancer — the 32-year-old fund-raiser has to date contributed more than $300 million to cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber.

The 2011 ride will be the fourth PMC for both men. Bruso, who rides with four other cyclists as part of Team Beer Summit, will cover a total of 190 miles during the two days, ending his challenge at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne. His personal goal is to raise $4,200 for Dana Farber. As of July 27, he had raised a little more than $2,000 toward his goal.

“As an oil burner technician, I can fix things but not the human body,” said Bruso, who owns Bay State Fuel Oil of West Springfield. Though he has lost several family members to cancer, Bruso said his initial inspiration to take on the PMC came when a favorite uncle — “who was an inspiration to do things well, stay straight and do the right thing” — was diagnosed with cancer.

“I could give him words of encouragement, but there was no damn thing I could do to help him,” Bruso said. “To be able to give the experts the tools that they need is my best shot at helping my friends and family.”

Moses will follow a three-day, 292-mile route beginning in Hillsdale, N.Y. with 11 other cyclists as part of Team Brielle’s Brigade. Founded by his brother Ed of Hampden in 2006 in honor of a niece who was diagnosed with leukemia, to date Brielle’s Brigade has raised $540,000 for Dana Farber. The team’s goal for this year is to surpass the $600,000 mark. Moses personal goal is also $4,200.

“We ride for so many family members and friends,” Moses said. “It seems there is always somebody starting their battle with cancer.”

For the past three years Moses, who is now the customer service manager at TurboCare in Chicopee, has ridden in honor of the young son of a former colleague who was diagnosed on the same day in 2008 that Moses lost a previous job with Atlas Copco of Ludlow.

“It kept things in perspective,” Moses said of the coincidence. “[The boy] has been treated at Dana-Farber and is making a full recovery.”

Both men said that though the ride takes place in early August, riders could continue to collect pledge money for their respective teams through the end of September. To assist Bruso, visit and enter the code LB0167 in the top left-hand box that reads, “Please donate to a rider today.” To help out Moses and team Brielle’s Brigade, visit and enter mm0375 in the box.

For Bruso, joining the annual PMC has been a way to rediscover a love of cycling.

“I’d been a cyclist about 20 years ago, then my wife and I started having kids and I just didn’t have the time,” Bruso said, adding that when his uncle got sick, he found a reason to get back on his bicycle.

The experience he said has been life changing, and something that keeps him coming back to the ride, year after year.

“The most incredible encounter [I had] was the first year I rode and there were people out there who had Living Proof tee shirts on [because they had survived cancer],” Bruso said.

He said he saw a pretty little 8 or 9-year old girl among the survivors tapping riders’ hands as they sped by.

“I thought I was going to give something to her, but when her hand touched mine, it was like a 1,000 volt charge had gone through me. It was the most spiritual thing. I was charged up for the next 50 miles,” Bruso said.

For Moses, it was the PMC that turned him into a cyclist.

“I wanted to join [my brother’s] team and participate and contribute,” Moses said. “I got a bike and started riding and training and stuck with it.”

He keeps coming back to the annual ride, Moses said, because of the “great people you meet along the way … everyone has a story of their battle [with cancer].”

The highlight of his four years, he said, was the 2009 ride, when his sister, a breast cancer survivor, rode with Brielle’s Brigade.

“Riding with her was just great,” he said.

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