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Bullring Bash Pledges Support to Pan-Mass Challenge

The Pan-Mass Challenge has raised nearly $660 million for cancer research and treatment since its founding in 1980.

Attleboro, Massachusetts (April 19, 2019) — The Bullring Bash Quarter Mile Challenge, presented by RaceChoice.com will be racing for more than just prize money, trophies, and pride in its inaugural season. The organization has pledged its support to the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) charity bike-a-thon and is helping raise money to benefit cancer research and treatment.

Bullring Bash founder Josh Vanada and Chief Starter Bryon Callen will both be riding in this year’s PMC bike-a-thon on Sunday, August 4. As part of fundraising efforts, $5 from every Bullring Bash Modified and Midstate Site Development Legend entry will go to their rides.

One hundred percent of funds raised by riders such as Vanada and Callen are donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. All PMC funds go directly to cancer research and treatment with not a single dollar going to administrative costs.

"Josh and I had talked about it the last couple years, primarily because of both of our fathers and the history they both had with cancer,” Bryon Callen said. “I love biking – I’m an avid biker, so it’s right up my alley. And then this past February, I was actually diagnosed with colon cancer. Luckily, they caught it at the earliest stage that they could. Everything was confined within polyps, so I was blessed that way. But it really took on a whole new meaning after that.”

Bullring Bash Chief Starter Bryon Callen (left) has recently undergone treatment for early-stage colon cancer while his father Bill (right) is a two-time cancer survivor. (courtesy photo)

The cause is one that hits close to home for both men in many ways. Callen’s father Bill, a Coordinator of Racing Operations for Bullring Bash, is a multi-time cancer survivor. Bill was diagnosed with testicular cancer on March 25, 1979 when Bryon and his sister Leslie were ages four and three. He recalls that moment being as scary as anything he’s faced in his life. Bill also survived a bout with prostate cancer that began six years ago. However, Bill’s father and younger sister both succumbed to forms of cancer.

“The thing that I think is most important and one of the things that I carry is awareness,” Bill Callen said. “People have to stop being afraid of the unknown, step outside the seven dots, and go ask the doctor what’s going on. When you have these pains and these feelings, that should never be put off, and that’s what Dana-Farber and everybody else is really bringing to the forefront now that I just deeply believe in.”

Bullring Bash founder Josh Vanada (left) will be riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge in part to honor his father Chuck (right), who received a life-saving stem cell transplant from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (courtesy photo)

Vanada’s father Chuck is also a multi-time cancer survivor. After his second diagnosis, he received a life-saving stem-cell transplant at Dana-Farber. While Chuck Vanada was given a minimal chance of survival following his first diagnosis 19 years ago, he received an 80 percent prognosis his second time, a testament to the advances in treatment made possible by charitable fundraising and research.

“Without the Pan-Mass Challenge and organizations like the Bullring Bash, stem cell research and stem cell transplants wouldn’t be a reality,” Vanada said. “Because of the money that is donated to Dana-Farber, whether it be through the Pan-Mass Challenge or other fundraising events that Dana-Farber has, I wouldn’t be here today.”

The Pan-Mass Challenge was founded in 1980 by Billy Starr shortly after his own mother died from melanoma. Using the bike-a-thon model as a symbol for achieving anything to which one commits their mind and body, the PMC now raises more money for charity than any other U.S. athletic event. Nearly $660 million has been raised by the annual event that attracts approximately 6,600 riders from 43 states and nine countries.

Each PMC bike-a-thon has a number of route options ranging from 25 to 192 miles in length as well as several levels of fundraising commitment. For people like Bryon Callen, it provides the opportunity to be a part of multiple things they are passionate about.

“I’m actually in the process of training for an Ironman (Triathlon), so I currently bike upwards of six to eight hours a week,” Callen noted. “It doesn’t surprise anybody if I go out and pedal 100 miles on a Saturday – it’s just what I do.”

“I really got into this about six years ago, and it’s really something where there was a sparkle one day that said, ‘hey, this is something I can probably do,’” he added. “I got involved with the biking aspect, and the fundraisers really came along with it. I do a lot for Bike MS in New Hampshire with a bunch of different friends as well. It’s about being able to combine two totally separate worlds, and it’s pretty cool that way.”

Regardless of what times they may post, all riders will be working towards a far greater goal. With the Bullring Bash’s backing, it opens a door for more of the racing community to get involved with the PMC and other charitable organizations. Chuck Vanada and Bill Callen added that they would happily speak with or write to anybody who is looking for support in their own battle with cancer.

“Racing gets a bad rap, I feel, because of the way that people act sometimes,” Vanada said. “But there’s a lot of good people out there that have gone through the same thing my family has gone through with my recovery. And still today, I have family members that suffer from cancer. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Bullring Bash is stepping up, and I hope other organizations follow suit.”

“I’ve been involved in racing since 1963, and the family that’s there are people that, when you have these types of things happen, they turn out with every ounce of strength that they have to support you and anything that you go through,” Bill Callen added. “There were the responses that I got when I had my problems, and the outpouring when people became aware that Bryon was having some issues – and people are still asking me about it.”

The Bullring Bash Quarter Mile Challenge, presented by RaceChoice.com will have additional announcements regarding registered teams, sponsors, officials, partnerships, and much more in the coming weeks. To keep up with the Bullring Bash, teams and fans can visit http://www.bullringbash.com. Fans can also stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @BullringBashQMC. To learn more about the Pan-Mass Challenge, get involved with this year’s event, or make a donation to a rider, visit http://www.pmc.org.

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