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The one hundred honoree: Billy Starr

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Billy Starr

Mass General Giving

Billy Starr always had a passion for travel and physical adventure. After losing his mother to melanoma when she was just 49, Billy decided to apply his determination and drive as an athlete to fighting cancer.

Combining athleticism with fund raising was a new idea when Billy and 35 of his friends cycled across Massachusetts in 1980 and raised $10,200 for cancer research. Under Billy’s leadership, the arduous ride became an annual event. As the founder and executive director of the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, Billy has developed the largest and most efficient athletic fund-raising event in the country.

Since 1980, the bike-a-thon has raised more than $239 million for the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Its largest contributor, the event generates about half of the Jimmy Fund’s annual gifts. Run by volunteers, the Pan-Mass Challenge donates 100 percent of the funds raised by riders.

The camaraderie among volunteers, supporters and cyclists — doctors, patients, cancer survivors, riders honoring lost loved ones — draws participants back year after year.