Billy Starr: Founder of the Pan-Mass Challenge

by Mason Gravley / Jul 17, 2020
Billy Starr: Founder of the Pan-Mass Challenge

When Billy’s mother, Betty, was diagnosed with cancer he decided to return home to Massachusetts instead of leaving for his climbing trip to Nepal. Billy had just graduated from college in Colorado and the world was seemingly his oyster. 

As his mother’s cancer worsened, those free-spirited experiences became less and less important and were ultimately replaced with grief after Betty tragically passed away from cancer in 1974. 

After floundering a few years and wondering how to process the grief, Billy’s desire to “do something” continued to grow. He took action in 1980 by organizing the first Pan-Mass Challenge as a way to make sense of the grief and carry on the legacy of his mother. 

The challenge would be to ride a bicycle across Massachusetts and raise money for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Foundation. 36 people joined that first year and they raised $10,000. The PMC was born. 

As founder and executive director of the Pan-Mass Challenge for over 40 years, Billy has grown the PMC into the largest single fundraising event in the country. To date, more than $700 million dollars has been raised, 6,000 riders participate every year with 4,000 volunteers, and participation from 200 companies. 

Find out more at

Donate here.

Register to ride virtually here. Dates are Aug 1-2, 2020.

Instagram: @panmass  

John Barrack’s PMC Ride link here