Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

A Message from Tru about the PMC

Tom at the Pan Mass Challenge in Fenway 2010 - Click here to donate to Tom's ride this year

Ah the Internet; that technologic marvel that allows instant information, whether true or false, to be right at our fingertips.  It’s amazing to think of how all this net business has changed our lives and we’ve become so dependent upon it.

Were it not for the Internet, we would not know one another, nor would Cyn’s blog be here.  And, it is worth noting that this particular blog isn’t just a resource for the happenings in baseball, or specifically the interest in Red Sox baseball.  It is, at least to me, much more than that.

One of the neater aspects to the blog is Cyn goes out of her way to bring things to our attention that is rooted in the idea that we can reach out and lend a helping hand to those in need.  Whether searching for a loved one who was lost, or helping grieving kids who lost their father to tragedy, this blog has always been a place that has elicited the kind of good deeds that needs getting done, appealing to us all to roll up our sleeves and participate.

So I’ve asked Cyn if I could write a few things and wish to take a few minutes to talk about one of my closest and oldest friends.

His name is Tom.  A week ago we celebrated his reaching the ripe old age of 60.  He was surrounded at a fabulous party by his wife and daughters, 83 year old (going on 18), mother, his in-laws, cousins, friends and a ton of great food and drink.  We were in his back yard, under a tent, with the weather doing its damnedest to dampen our mood.  As people ate and talked about him, I began to reflect on our 45 year relationship

We met in our sophomore year in high school.  He was an athlete… a really good athlete, who learned a love of skiing from his father, and expanded that sport to learn how to skateboard and surf.  He was and is an excellent surfer.  I have photos of him on a very cold day in Rhode Island where he was surfing some pretty big waves.  Those photos were enlarged, mounted and hang on my daughters walls now.  They know it’s him in those photos, as they’ve been around him all their lives and know many of the surfing stories he’s shared.  Tom and I have surfed in a lot of places up and down the eastern seaboard and he was always the first guy out to the lineup and the last guy in.

We skied together in high school, with me not doing much of it since the late 70’s, while he is still on his every winter.  He loves to hike and has taken his family on many treks here in northern New England, and has ventured throughout Utah and Arizona.

I was his best man in his wedding, saw the birth of his two daughters, passing of his father and been at many of the important moments of his life.  He has worked hard in his business and has always had a capacity to smile, even under pressing, otherwise difficult circumstances.

Tom has always been an athlete, keeping his body in tip top shape.  He’s watched his diet, doesn’t drink or smoke, and has been devoted to his family for as long as I’ve known him.  He is, as you can sort of tell, a guy I greatly admire.

In 2007, Tom and I went to watch the Red Sox play in the World Series.  It was cold, and it was fantastic, not just because we were at Fenway, or the Red Sox were walking away with another fantastic championship.  It was because I was there with him.  It was because he was still here.

Not too long ago, Tom was diagnosed with throat cancer.  It was stunning news, because he seemed an unlikely candidate.  I know that cancer is indiscriminate, not caring one whit about anyone it attacks.  It is just that you would never expect it to touch him.  So Tom and his family began down that dark road to where no one knows where it leads as they first set out.  He had a few consultations near local hospitals, but then decided to go to the Farber.

The Dana Farber Center is beyond any descriptions for the people who are affected by what goes on there.

These dedicated caring specialists laid out a treatment plan that was going to test the iron will Tom possesses.  And it did. His weight loss, lack of energy, inability to eat, drink or sleep with any normalcy put a strain on him and everyone who loves him.  But throughout the two year treatment process, he never stopped smiling and never once gave up, nor ever complained.  If you were to ask him about it, he’d bend your ear.  Not from the perspective of what he went through.  No, Tom would go on and on about the fantastic people at the Farber, and all those sick little kids who he says have more courage and uplifting spirits than he’ll ever hope to have.

Tom has been riding in the Pan Mass Challenge ever since he was strong enough to get back into some regular routine for exercise.

He’s in training now, as the PMC will host their 31st ride in August.  Tom will be there, riding to help raise money for the Jimmy Fund. It will be his fifth year in the event, and he does this to give back to help those who helped him.  He wants to see to it that they have the tools do advance the fight.  And the only way to do that is by raising money.

You might not know this, but since 1980, the PMC has raised more than 300 million dollars, with 100% of rider raised dollars going directly to the fund… 100%!  And the other interesting fact is that PMC was responsible for 60% of all funds donated to the Jimmy Fund and they are the largest contributor.  Riders are required to pay to ride in the event, and depending on which route they ride, they must raise between $500 to as much as $4,200 in order to participate.

Many of the riders are cancer survivors, or those who ride to support a family member.  Ages range from 17 years old to 87, with 34 states represented.  This is one major league event and it is run by dedicated people who share the passion to do whatever they can to see an end to cancer.

Saturday night I was at Fenway with Tom, his wife and two daughters.  It’s the annual PMC game and he invited me to be there with his family.  That’s two things that I have a hard time resisting… being with my best friend and at Fenway Park.

It was pretty emotional watching the riders bike the warning track. Denise DeSimone who survived throat cancer sang the national anthem. It was mentioned that her initial prognosis was thought to be so bad; she’d lose her ability to speak, never mind sing. Her voice was soft and deep, but beautiful.

There’s also Zak Kraft who threw out the first pitch. Zak’s story is really interesting. Zack’s dad is a lifelong friend of Billy Starr. Starr founded the PMC. Zak’s dad has ridden in every PMC… 32 of them. Zak is, at 28 years old, a cancer patient.

The PMC attendees got to sit in the grandstands behind home plate. Zak and his fiancée sat right in front of us. Zak’s mother remembers meeting my friend Tom at previous PMC events.

I’ve got to say that I am truly impressed with what the Sox have done to reach out and embrace the right things that make a difference in people’s lives. It’s no secret that what brings us all here is a common love of baseball; Red Sox baseball. But the current owners of this team have continually hit home runs, IMO, especially in ways that are really important

Saturday night, the Sox didn’t win, but in other, far more important ways, the real winners were all around me, smiling, laughing, celebrating and still here.

Thank you PMC, the pros over at the Farber Center, the Red Sox and thank you, Tom.

Tom at the 2007 World Series (Photo by Tru!)

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June 20, 2011 - Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , ,

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