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Inspired by Friend's Courage and Grace

"On August 3, I will join more than 5,000 riders cycling the Pan Mass Challenge, a fundraiser to raise money for life saving cancer research and treatment provided by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute," said Groton resident Jackie Baker. "Ken Jeffries and I have committed to raise $8,200 and will ride 84 miles from Wellesley to Bourne again this year."    

If you have followed the articles in the Herald in past years, many of you know that Baker rides in memory of her dear friend Meghan McCarthy who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 17.  

She faced her two and one-half year journey with determination and grace, and showed a family, a school and an entire community the definition of courage. Throughout her treatment, Meghan managed to play field hockey and basketball, remain on the honor roll, get her driver's license, attend her junior prom, work a part-time summer job and greet most days with a smile that would make anyone's day.  

Meghan strove to lead a 'normal' life despite cancer and did not let it define her. She did, however, make a commitment to help others she felt were suffering more than she was. Meghan led her school to a second place finish in the 2008 'Rally Against Cancer' campaign, spoke at countless fundraising events and headlined a fashion show that raised over $10,000 for the 2010 Flying Henry's PMC fundraising team.

The morning after she died, the superintendent of her high school arrived to drop off the last few papers Meghan wrote as a high school senior. In one, Meghan described her life goals - to be a preschool teacher, to adopt a few kids, and to make a lifelong commitment to the Jimmy Fund. She said, "If I just walked away from the Jimmy fund, that wouldn't be me."  

Thanks to the generosity of many, the Flying Henry's team raised more than $100,000 in 2010, allowing creation of the Meghan McCarthy Research Fund to further research in high grade pediatric brain tumors and to advance the search for a cure for all cancers.    

Each year, a portion of the money raised by the Flying Henry's goes to Meghan's fund and 100 percent of every dollar goes to funding cancer research. "What we did not know then was how this effort and Meghan's commitment would come to touch our lives in so many different ways. I can't think of a more fitting way to achieve one of Meghan's life goals," continued Baker.

"Last year, we added my brother Dan to the list of who we ride for. He continues to wage his war with esophageal cancer," Baker said. "My proudest moment of last year's PMC ride was watching him receive his 'living proof' button from the captain of our team."  

Unfortunately, Jeffries was diagnosed with brain cancer this past February. Surgery in March, an intensive six and a half week treatment of radiation and chemotherapy followed. In a few weeks, he will be back to Dana-Farber to start monthly chemo rounds. Ken and Dan face their challenges with courage, humor, determination and grace, both aspiring to be as tough and resilient as Meghan.  

"As I walk this road with each of them, I am impressed by the compassionate care provided by Dana-Farber and their partner Brigham and Women's, These folks could not do what they do without the financial support of the PMC," Baker maintained.  

Baker went on. "We are just one family. The Flying Henry's, just one team that has been touched by cancer. Each of us has a story of how this disease has changed our life or the life of someone we know and love. I am asked, how do you do it and my reply, 'how can we not'?  

Baker and Jeffries have raised a total of $29,787 since 2010 and the Flying Henry's team has raised $548,000 since 2005. They both feel fortunate to have this avenue to contribute, especially as we accept that we now need the help as much as we need to help others.

Great strides continue to be made and there are many success stories. "We have access to the finest doctors and technology in the world, but that is not enough.  We simply need better, until there is a cure...we ride," concluded Baker.

Consider making a donation to Jackie Baker, Ken Jeffries or any of the 21 Groton/West Groton residents cycling in the 34th Annual Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC). You can donate on line at and the riders' eGift numbers can be found below or a check made payable to the PMC and sent to their home address. (All are Groton/West Groton residents).

Andrew Brandt-AB0268, Jacqueline Baker-JB0481, Kevin Barrett-KB0250, Thomas Boggiano-TB0214, David Briss-DB0249, Peter Difranco-PD0146, Kathleen Falls-KF0143, Laura Frisard-LF0095, Doug Furciniti-DF0194, James Greacen-JG0172, Karen Hartzell-KH0194, Matthew Hickcox-MH0233, Kenneth Jeffries-KJ0046, Charles McKinney-CM0202, Robinson Moore-RM0088, Raymond Murphy -RM0150, Laura Pollard-LP0056, Bill Provost-BP0090, Bryan Royal-BR0124, Jim Seidewand-JS0533, Patricia Upton-0003.


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