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Father-Daughter PMC Team Keeps Mom's Legacy Alive
Connie Peterson thought it was a great idea when her

Connie Peterson thought it was a great idea when her 15-year-old daughter Lea announced her intention to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge three years ago. For Lea, and her dad Cris, the annual two-day bike ride to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, presented a chance to train together, support a good cause, and keep Connie's spirit alive and well.
"She was scared people were going to forget about her and scared about her legacy because she felt she had not accomplished all of the things she wanted," Lea Peterson said. "My mom thought this was the best idea."
Connie passed away in February of 2015 after a battle with liver cancer. Lea and Cris began training and completed their first PMC in August of that year. This year's ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, which took place August 5 and 6, was their third.
"It has become a great tradition," Cris Peterson said. "Sometimes I think what you really prize the most is what you work hardest to achieve and the PMC has that."
The father and daughter team train together, rolling through the hills of Upton and Mendon in 20 or 30 mile chunks. Sports and fitness have been a way of life for the Upton family. Cris — who also lost his best friend and his father, Lea's grandfather, to cancer —  is an avid kayaker and CrossFit athlete. Lea was a star field hockey player at Nipmuc who will continue to play the sport in college at Roger Williams University, Bristol, R.I.
Connie shared their energetic nature and passion for health and fitness.
"She was a go-getter and really smart," Lea said. "She worked in the yard, re-tiled the basement, she was so involved in everything at school. It's how she was with everything in her life. She did Beach Body workouts and Shakeology, she liked to be vegan and everything we ate was organic. It was a struggle to get Cheetos into this house."
Lea and Cris rode through rain and sunshine in this year's PMC, passing cheering friends and family as they pedaled through Mendon on the first day. This fall brings about significant changes for both of them. Lea, who just turned 18, is off to college this weekend. Cris is moving to Gloucester to find new adventures in a new place.
But Connie's memory, and this annual ride, will always be a part of their lives.
"I've grown so much as a person and we have the PMC to rely on to help us grow as people, it's changed my life," Lea said. "When you lose somebody, it never goes away, but I am so excited to start college, and I know she would want me to be happy."




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