SHREWSBURY – Bradley Quitadamo was 12 years old when his father – Richard Quitadamo – died from Stage 4 sarcoma in 2013.
Richard Quitadamo loved biking, and, despite not knowing anyone who had cancer, rode the Pan-Mass Challenge for 17 consecutive years.
“Biking was his favorite hobby, and he just wanted to do it,” Quitadamo said.
Now, 10 years after his father died, Quitadamo participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge, using the 186-mile ride to honor his father and fundraise for charity.
“I will never forget my first race”
The Pan-Mass Challenge is an annual bike-a-thon that raises more money for charity – the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – than any other single event in the country. Over 6,800 riders and over 3,000 volunteers participate in the event.
To prepare for his first Pan-Mass Challenge, Quitadamo rode more than 1,200 miles.
“I would usually do 100 miles a week – divy it up into different rides,” he told the Community Advocate. “A mixture of really hilly rides and flat rides. We went up Mount Wachusett and back from Shrewsbury – that was one of our bigger [practice rides].”
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Quitadamo formed “Team Q” with his cousin and four-time Pan-Mass Challenge participant Hugo Hunt. Quitadamo called Hunt one of his “role models,” and he credited Hunt with giving him “tips and tricks” to prepare for his first challenge.
In total, the two-person team raised over $16,300. Team Q’s logo has parts of the M and the Q shaded to form the number 10, honoring the 10 years since Quitadamo’s father passed.
Quitadamo didn’t realize his first challenge would coincide with the 10-year mark.
“Actually, my cousin Hugo has always been trying to get me to do it,” he said. “The 10 years thing just lined up by coincidence; even better motivation and fundraising techniques to do it.”
There are links between Quitadamo and his father’s Pan-Mass Challenge involvement. Quitadamo also refurbished his father’s bicycle and used it for the race. He also said many people his father biked with have become lifelong family friends.
Biking for miles can be tough, but Quitadamo said it could always be worse.
“[On the ride], you think about people who are undergoing cancer treatment or suffering from the symptoms of cancer. Even when times get tough, going up a huge hill in, I don’t know, Oxford, Mass., it can always be worse; going through chemo,” he said.
Along the ride, participants can meet “living proof” – riders and volunteers who were previously treated or are currently undergoing cancer treatment.
“You can’t get much better drive than that,” he added.
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Quitadamo said he is already looking forward to next year’s race, and he hopes to expand his team and increase the fundraising.
“It was great… It was an unbelievable feeling and experience and feeling to see all my friends and family after I finished… I will never forget my first race…I’m really looking forward to doing it again and raising even more money,” he said.
More information on the Pan-Mass Challenge is available at https://www.pmc.org/.