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Riding for Cancer Research | Community Health Initiatives

Today I am writing to highlight a very important and meaningful challenge being undertaken by members of Azara’s staff this summer.  As many of you know, we lost our friend and colleague, Heather Budd to ovarian cancer in November 2021, and as each of us has come to terms with the tremendous hole left in our lives by Heather’s absence, we have all looked for ways to honor and remember her in both our professional and personal lives. 

The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is a Massachusetts-based bike-a-thon that raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country. Held the first weekend of August, the PMC raises funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a world leader in adult and pediatric cancer treatment and research.  Each summer, thousands of riders and volunteers from 43 states and 12 countries participate in the PMC, all with a common goal: to find a cure for cancer. 100% of all rider-raised funds go directly to cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.

The team of Azara riders represent various departments throughout the company (Finance, Clinical Transformation, Sales, Delivery and Support) and each individual has their own unique reasons for embarking on this mission, detailed below.  I want to call attention to the training and extraordinary efforts being put forth by this group.  All of us at Azara stand behind them and are supporting their efforts.  Cancer has affected all of our lives and families in some manner, and I am pleased our Azara family can support such a respected organization as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in raising funds for the groundbreaking research they conduct toward both treatments and cures.  For those whose lives were touched by Heather or her work and for those who interact with these members of Azara’s team, I urge you to do what you can to support their efforts in this ride.  

Lastly, a public service announcement: We urge all of you, our clients, partners and friends to “GET YOURSELVES AND YOUR LOVED ONES IN THE NUMERATOR” of cancer screening measures—which is data analytics speak to say don’t put off those mammograms, colonoscopies and pap smears. They might save your life.  


Meet the Team - Azara BKRS:

Click here to learn more about the Azara BKRS team or to make a donation.

The Azara BKRS are from all walks of life, each with our own stories to tell, but we've all been directly impacted by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Heather Budd.  Heather had a wonderful spirit and showed a level of passion every day that of course could be matched by no one—which she preferred because she was also very competitive!  She was also funny, kind, contemplative, thoughtful, strong, honorable, and gone far too soon.  We all look forward to riding in honor of her and can only hope to show the same passion and commitment she had every day.

We're a proud supporter of the Pan-Mass Challenge because it is leading the charge to beat cancer.  In fact, last year 100% of rider-raised revenue went directly to support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's tireless commitment to finding a cure.

Our team rides for those who are continuing to fight cancer and those we've lost. We want to especially recognize the following people:

  • Bernard and Margaret Andre
  • Jim Bowes
  • Heather Budd
  • Walter Gordon
  • Nancy Mede
  • Bill Neal
  • Connie Neal
  • Diana Trimberger
  • Lee Witala

Azara BKRS share what and who has inspired them to ride this year:

Sam Bar
In 2021, my friend and mentor Heather Budd was diagnosed with and passed away from ovarian cancer. This surprising and quick end to a wonderful life inspired me, and others at Azara Healthcare, to raise funds for the research needed to prevent this from happening to others. This will be my 2nd year riding the PMC, and I'm super excited to push myself further and raise more than I did in 2022. 

Susan Boggiano
I first became involved with the PMC in 2007.  I decided to ride to honor family members I had lost quite suddenly to cancer.  It was such an inspiring event and the people I met and stories I heard had me coming back each year to support this fundraiser in some way, riding, volunteering, and donating.  This will be my second year riding on the Azara BKRS team in remembrance of Heather and other friends and family we have lost while supporting those that are undergoing and survived cancer.

Kara Gee
I ride for grandmothers, who were diagnosed with cancer the same year, one who sadly lost her battle after a tenacious and fierce fight.  I ride for my dear friend who is currently fighting and who has young children she is also trying to be strong for.  I ride for my friends, family and former co-worker who are survivors, but will forever need to be watchful.  We ride together because cancer can feel so defeating, and even though we cannot fight the battle for those we love, we can support them and those searching for a cure. 

Kaitlyn Gordon
This will be my first year biking the 50-mile PMC with the Azara Team, and I couldn't be more excited. I will be riding in memory of Bernard Andre, Margaret Andre, Jim Bowes, Lee Witala, Walter Gordon, Nancy Mede, and Heather Budd.

LuAnn Kimker
Ready for year 2!  I'm hoping this year that ride is a little cooler as I take on the 50-mile ride.  I am excited to ride for all those I know who have lived through the physical and emotional challenges of cancer, those that continue the fight and especially for my colleague and friend Heather Budd.  I'm taking her fierce loyalty and dedication with me on this ride!

Chris Neal
This is a wonderful opportunity to raise money for a cause that sadly touches nearly everyone’s lives.  I am honored to train and ride with a motivated team of friends/colleagues with a common goal.  We keep our loved ones affected by cancer in our minds and hearts throughout the journey, and we are genuinely inspired by both those who have battled disease, as well as those who have contributed to the fight for a cure. 

Paula Silvia
I’m excited to be a part of the PMC this year for the first time ever.  As someone who has donated bone marrow and thus worked closely with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, I’m looking forward to being able to continue to support their efforts.  I’m overwhelmed by the support of my fellow colleagues who encouraged me to participate in this year’s ride, and even let me borrow some equipment.  This one is for my dad and for Heather, who would have loved to see me succeed.  And for Diana, who has become part of my family.

Carrie Taylor
Watching the Azara team participate in the Pan-Mass Challenge last year was incredible, and I knew I needed to be involved in 2023.  I am ecstatic to be participating alongside my Azara teammates this year to raise money for such a fantastic cause.  Cancer is no stranger to my family, and I am honored to be riding for my family, friends, and your family and friends too. We are all in this together!