As a prostate cancer survivor, pal to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died of brain cancer, and hubby to Teresa Heinz Kerry, who's battling breast cancer, Sen. John Kerry is among the leaders in championing a cure. Literally. Friends tell Whispers that the Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate has been training for his ninth Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a bike-a-thon that raises millions of dollars for cancer charities like Boston's Jimmy Fund. "You don't push yourself through the marathon of a presidential race if you're not wildly driven, and John's got that same drive when he's on a bike, especially for this cause," says a pal.
It's not easy getting ready for the 110-mile ride from Sturbridge, Mass., to Boston on the weekend of August 6-7. Kerry, 67, will be testing out his new hips, replaced two years ago. And his job makes finding time to train difficult. So we're told he's out the door at 4 a.m. three days a week for a two- to three-hour ride on his Canadian built Cervelo S3 road bike, no matter what the weather. "He lights up talking about it, and he's constantly monitoring his time as he goes. He's even been caught out in thunderstorms and kept on going," says his friend.
Fundraising has been easier. Kerry has already raised $100,000 toward his $150,000 goal for his ride.
Pan-Mass Challenge founder Billy Starr tells Whispers: "For the last nine years, John Kerry has saddled up and rode, just like every other cyclist in the PMC. The fact that he is an elite fundraiser—one of many in the PMC—is due to his willingness to reach out to a vast network of his supporters and allow them an opportunity to support a cause that impacts us all."
Fellow Bay Stater, Republican Sen. Scott Brown will join Kerry in the bike-a-thon. In an E-mail to supporters, Brown says, "While we have made a lot of progress in the battle against cancer, there is more work to be done. That's why I am asking for your help."
Starr is tickled to have the duo at his event. "PMC weekend gives them both an opportunity to be amongst their constituency and on their bikes—a sport that both men love!"
Having tackled cancer, found in his prostate in 2002, Kerry attacks each day with vigor. "He just has this belief that every day after cancer is extra, so if you're sitting home watching TV you're wasting something precious," says his friend, who adds that Kerry participated in a similar race in honor of Kennedy. "He does more before breakfast than some senators do all day."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.