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SLU Young Alumni Fight Cancer at Pan-Mass Challenge

Several recent St. Lawrence graduates are having a different kind of reunion this weekend: one where their priority is fighting cancer.

Amanda Chase ’12 and eight of her Laurentian friends, Peter Child ’12, Ben Moran ’11, Betsy Lucas ’12, Kirsten Newton ’12, Mark Armstrong ’12, Peter Carpenter ’12, Rooney Castle ’09 and Bobby Torney ’11 are volunteering at the Pan-Mass Challenge, a three-day fundraiser for cancer research and treatment through an annual bike-a-thon that crosses the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that kicks off Friday, Aug. 1. In addition to volunteering, Amanda, along with Peter Child and Ben, will put on their helmets and take part in one of the almost 200-mile rides.

“The Pan-Mass Challenge has been a part of my life since I can remember,” Amanda says, noting her dad’s involvement since the late 1980s. He is now responsible for all merchandising and her mom coordinates all activities in the massage therapy area. “I’ve been volunteering since I was seven years old and started riding in it when I was 15.”

A few of her friends from St. Lawrence started volunteering with Amanda while they were students. “You always hear stories about Laurentians wanting to find ways to give back and make a difference, she says. “It’s something engrained in us since community service is something we’re involved in as students.”

The number of St. Lawrence alumni who help has grown with each Challenge weekend the last few years. “It’s awesome to have so many of my friends get involved,” Amanda says. “Since we don’t have St. Lawrence to return to each year, it’s a mini-reunion and is the one place I know I’ll see them every year because they enjoy it. It’s an emotional but really rewarding experience.”

Peter Child, a friend of Amanda’s who volunteered last year for the first time, was so inspired he decided to fundraise and ride this year.

“It’s an unbelievable time and it’s for a good cause,” he says. “There’s a lot of work, but it’s fulfilling and motivating, especially when you meet the survivors. I knew after last year I wanted to be more a part of it. Volunteering and biking will help me get the whole experience.”

Peter likes to ride and does so regularly to keep in shape for triathlons. Amanda doesn’t necessarily share his affinity for the sport.

“I really don’t enjoy riding, but I love riding in the Challenge,” she says. “It’s such an addicting weekend. I’ll be a part of it for the rest of my life.”

There was a time early on when she questioned if she wanted to be a participant, but she recalls the moment she decided to stay on course.

“When I was going into my senior year of high school, I remember biking up a hill during the weekend, almost in tears because I wanted to get off the bike and just stop,” she says. “Then I saw a spectator holding a sign that read, ‘To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.’ It made me remember why I ride: I do it for the people who can’t. It motivated me to remember why I can’t stop doing this ride.”

The challenge and its purpose never leave Amanda. In fact, she has found a way to take something she is passionate about and make it her life’s work: She is currently the event coordinator for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge, a full-time job with the Miami Dolphins organization.

“Everyone rides in these events for someone or for a reason,” she says. “Those are the stories – why people are there – that tell you the time you’re spending and the effort you’re putting in is worthwhile. I meet people every year who say, ‘I’m alive because of you guys.’ That’s the part that gets me. Cancer really does affect everyone.”

To help Amanda, Peter and Ben reach their fundraising goals, visit www.pmc.org.