On August 7 and 8, ten New Canaanites will ride in the 31st annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, the nation's pioneer charity bike-a-thon that raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country. They will be among the 5,000 cyclists from 36 states and eight countries who will ride with the collective goal of raising $31 million to support lifesaving adult and pediatric cancer care and research through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund.

While known for its signature two-day, 190-mile route, the PMC is made up of 10 different cycling routes through 46 Massachusetts communities. The various PMC routes, with varying fundraising requirements, mean anyone with a bike and determination can participate.

PMC riders range in age from 13 to 86 years and are from all walks of life, from police officers to stay-at-home mothers to corporate CEOs. The PMC is for seasoned athletes and cycling newcomers who are unified by the single goal of raising money to fight cancer. Doctors ride along side their patients; grandparents bike with their grandchildren; and nearly everyone rides on behalf of loved ones lost to, or battling, cancer. More than 300 riders are cancer survivors or current patients.

During PMC weekend, individual cyclists become part of one family. Thousands of supporters cheer along the route. The bike-a-thon is fully supported with 3,000 volunteers who help at the water stops by serving food and water, assist with mechanical and medical issues and luggage transportation. Lodging is also provided.

"The PMC is more than just a bike ride," said Billy Starr, PMC founder and executive director. "It is a community of people with one unifying mission: raising money for cancer research."

No other single athletic event raises or contributes more money to charity than the PMC. Since 1980, the PMC has raised $270 million for cancer research and care at Dana-Farber through its Jimmy Fund. The PMC gives 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the Jimmy Fund, a rate of fundraising that is nearly unequaled within the $3 billion athletic fundraising event industry. The PMC generates more than 50 percent of the Jimmy Fund's annual revenue and is its largest single contributor. PMC funding is considered "seed money;" it allows researchers and doctors to finance innovative experiments and conduct initial trials to qualify for federal funding.

Two-day rides include the original 190-mile Sturbridge to Provincetown route; the 180-mile Sturbridge-Bourne-Wellesley route; the 163-mile Wellesley-Bourne-Provincetown route; the 153-mile Wellesley-Bourne-Wellesley route; the 157-mile Sturbridge-Bourne-Wellesley-Wellesley route and the 131-mile Wellesley-Bourne-Wellesley-Wellesley route. One-day riders cycle the 110-mile Sturbridge-Bourne route, the 84-mile Wellesley-Bourne route, or the 47-mile Wellesley-Wellesley Sunday loop. Cyclists are required to raise between $500 and $4,200, depending on the chosen route, yet the average PMC cyclist raises more than $6,000. This commitment to the fundraising portion of the PMC journey is a testament to riders' dedication to the cause and their belief in the PMC mission.

The PMC is presented by the Red Sox Foundation and New Balance Foundation. To become a virtual rider, or make a financial contribution to a rider from your town, visit www.pmc.org, or call 800-WE-CYCLE. Checks can be made payable to PMC, 77 Fourth Ave., Needham, Mass. 02494.

The Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon, is a pioneer of the athletic fundraising industry and today raises more money for charity than any other single event in the country. The organization was founded in 1980 and has since raised $270 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. The PMC is a model of fundraising efficiency. In 2009, for the third consecutive year, the PMC donated 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause. The PMC generates more than half of the Jimmy Fund's annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber's single largest contributor. Over 250,000 individual contributions were made to last year's fundraising campaign.

The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is a fully supported bike-a-thon -- with food and water stops, mechanical and medical assistance, luggage transportation, and lodging -- that runs through 46 towns across Massachusetts. More than 5,000 cyclists are expected to ride this year. Cyclists choose from ten routes of varying mileage designed to cater to all levels of cycling strength and time availability. In 2010, cyclists are required to raise between $500 and $4,200 to ride in the PMC, depending on the chosen route.

Cyclists will travel from 36 states and eight countries to ride in PMC 2010. More than 300 riders will be cancer survivors or current patients. Some PMC cyclists are weekend warriors; others are trained triathletes. Many PMC participants ride in honor of a family member or friend fighting the disease. The average PMC cyclist is 43 years old, trains for three months, solicits 40 sponsors, and raises more than $6,000. During PMC weekend and throughout the year, 3,000 volunteers donate their time and 200 corporations provide in-kind donations of products or services. The PMC was founded in 1980 by Billy Starr, who remains the event's executive director, an annual cyclist and a fundraiser. It is presented by the Red Sox Foundation.