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Sports Flash

Life has a way of reminding you about what's really important. Sometimes those reminders come in more obvious forms, like a really big picture.
After rolling through more than half the first day of the Pan-Mass Challenge under relatively pleasant, cloudy skies, our collective luck ran out around the Dighton lunch stop. The drops slowly began to fall. A trickle turned into a drizzle, then a steady rain and, for some still out on the road by mid-afternoon, a deluge.
For anyone who has cycled in the rain, you know it's far from a pleasant experience. The road can be slick, the grip on the handle bars and the breaks is not as strong and when seats and bike shorts get wet ... well, let's just say it can be uncomfortable.
Some of those symptoms were setting in for me and the other riders as we approached Lakeville, but we all get a moving reminder of why we ride at that next water stop.
Dubbed the pedal partner stop, riders are greeted by large photos of children who have been or are currently being treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Boston treatment and research center for which the PMC is its largest single benefactor.
Seeing those pictures is enough to remind us that a little rain is nothing compared to the hell these kids have endured.
My team, the Stem Cell Cyclists, has a pedal partner named Declan. He battled, and beat, a rare form of brain cancer diagnosed when he was just 15 months old. In a blog on Dana-Farber's web site published in 2012, Declan's father, Timothy, described his son's treatment as more than a year of high-dose chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation and a half-dozen surgeries.
"There were feeding tubes, ports in his chest and head, and more blood and platelet transfusions than I can count," Timothy wrote.
Yeah, riding in the rain isn't all that tough after all.
Many of the pedal partners greet the riders at that stop and I made sure to stop and say hello to Declan, now 13. He was sitting under a tree wearing a rain coat and a wide smile.
"I wish it would stop raining," I told him.
"I wish it never started," he quipped. Smart kid.
Declan has a great personality. One of my teammates lovingly describes him as a "wise-ass kid." I can appreciate that, I used to be one myself.
There are many great mottos for the PMC and for Dana-Farber, but maybe we can add in one more. "May every child have the chance to grow up to be a wise- ass kid."




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