Barry and Diana

Halfway through their Pan-Massachusetts Challenge last Saturday, Andover native Diana Finegold and her brother, Sen. Barry Finegold, stop for a break before meeting up with family members. The Finegolds' older sister, Joni Finegold-Sachs, a married mother of two daughters, died of cancer a year ago.

Editor, Townsman:

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through my ride with the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge this past weekend. Following the article about my ride in both the Andover Townsman and The Eagle-Tribune, the outpouring of support, through donations and kind words, has been overwhelming.

Riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge was truly one of the most emotionally uplifting experiences I have ever had. The day was remarkable, to say the least. It was filled with lots of emotions, and a poignant awareness that this day was dedicated to a loved one our family had lost.

At the start of the day, there were about 5,000 bikers at the starting line with my sister Diana and I, many of whom I realized through conversation had also lost a love one to cancer. It felt like we were all part of the same club, a club none of us wanted to be a part of. But this club bonded us all together. This bond made us all so much stronger and made our desire to make a difference that much greater.

Unlike most sporting events, this was not a competition, but rather a cause. We raced to raise money to combat something truly ugly in our society — cancer. There were reminders of this all along the course.

At one point along the route, we passed photos of children who had lost their battles with cancer, and we could not help but get emotional.

When it started to rain, our spirits were not dampened; instead, we were motivated to ride harder. When we finally crossed the finish line, we couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of accomplishment.

Whether you have lost someone to cancer, or just feel like being part of something greater than yourself, this is the event to do. I would recommend this event as something to do not only for the physical challenge, but also for the emotional reward you will receive.

On a personal note, I was happy with my time, but more pleased that I did not crash. I am still getting used to riding a bike, because the last time I rode one I was 10 years old.

Once again, and on behalf of my family, I want to thank all of you the readers, Bill Burt, the Townsman and the Tribune for giving the race some exposure and helping in the fight to end cancer.

Donations still can be made on behalf of Sen. Barry Finegold and his sister, Diana Finegold, online at or by mailing a check payable to the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge to Sen. Barry Finegold, 34 Essex St., Andover 01810.

Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover

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