With its summer tradition canceled, Pat’s Pedaling Pack organized a new way to raise funds for its battle against childhood cancer.
The group of cyclists, which supports Pat Mac’s Pack, a charity named in memory of Beverly teen Patrick McNamara, usually completes a 100-kilometer ride every June to Long Beach, Ind.
Unfortunately, the public health crisis nixed this year’s ride. Nonetheless, “Pedal for Pat” will be held Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 throughout local communities.
Families and friends are encouraged to bike through their neighborhoods, make their donation and post pictures of on social media.
“Like everyone, we were disappointed not to have the bike ride in June,” said Tom McNamara, Patrick’s father. “We looked forward to it, and it was a huge fundraiser. With the money we’ve raised from that event, we were able to help a lot of young cancer patients and their families, as well as fund research at Lurie Children’s Hospital into pediatric brain tumors. And so this year, when we were unable to do that, we decided to come up with this ‘Pedal for Pat’ event.”
The ride is “completely do it yourself,” organizers said, with no specific activities being conducted by the charity.
Donations can be made online at the website for patmacspack.org.
Photos can be posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag “pedalforpat.”
Any form of participation in Pedal for Pat, McNamara said, is encouraged.
“If you don’t ride, go out and walk around the block,” he said. “Just remember the kids who are battling this terrible disease and make a donation to Pat Mac’s Pack so that we can continue with our mission.”
Patrick McNamara died at age 13 in 2011 after battling a brain tumor known as ependymoma. The St. Barnabas Elementary School eighth-grader had battled brain tumors nearly his entire life.
Tom McNamara plans to enjoy participating with a handful of family and friends, but he can’t wait to get back to the ride’s usual destination.
The first official ride to Indiana took place in 2014. Riders gathered before dawn at St. Barnabas, where they paid their respects to Patrick McNamara while his basketball jersey hung in the gym. With children who are fighting cancer leading the way alongside bagpipers, riders made their way onto Longwood Drive and pedaled toward Indiana.
Last year, about 200 riders raised over $185,000. The ride was a men-only event, with participants enjoying a weekend of golf after arriving in Long Beach.
However, women were to be invited this year.
“It’s become a great neighborhood tradition,” McNamara said. “We know all the riders look forward to it every year—not just the ride, but the whole weekend and playing golf the next day.”
Anyone making a donation through Sept. 15 will be entered into a raffle to win two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines or a city of Chicago flag made from fire hoses.
Through other events, including its annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser, Pat Mac’s Pack has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $200,000 to Lurie Children’s Hospital last January.
McNamara said he hopes this year’s version of the ride will be still be invigorating.
“We just want people to get out and be active,” he said, “and have some fun and make a donation.”
For more information, visit patmacspack.org.