Insider Insights Webinar: Billy Starr, founder of the Pan-Mass Challenge

Original Broadcast Date: November 12, 2014


The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) bike-a-thon raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country – $41 million in 2013 and $455 million since 1980 for adult and pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) through the Jimmy Fund.

The PMC uses a “100% model” — it donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause with corporate and other supporters underwriting program expenses.


Billy Starr, PMC founder and a pioneer in peer-to-peer fundraising, is interviewed by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum about his program’s storied history and how he plans to keep this industry leader growing.Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 2.14.59 PM

His passion and love of sports and the outdoors was honed during his college years at the University of Denver, but it was in grief that Billy Starr found his inspiration and personal mission.  When his mother Betty died of melanoma at 49, the New England native set aside his dream of backpacking the world after graduation to funnel his emotions into a trek with friends along the Appalachian Trail. From the challenge of planning the pace, gear and food, as well as urging his group on both emotionally and physically, emerged the leadership and motivational characteristics that would later define his life’s work.  What emerged was a leader capable of shouldering heavy loads, both physically and mentally, and a motivator capable of keeping others on track and focused on the challenges ahead. In 1980, Billy Starr and dozens of cycling buddies set off for a weekend ride to the Cape. Not content to push themselves physically, they challenged themselves to raise money to combat cancer. By Sunday, the fundamentals and inspiration of what is now the Pan-Mass Challenge were in place. Billy Starr lives in Wellesley with his wife and two daughters. He is the recipient of Dana Farber’s Sidney Farber Medical Research Award and medal, and the Jimmy Fund’s highest honor, the Thomas A. and Jean R. Yawkey Memorial Award for outstanding service.

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