Each year, bicycle riders take to the streets of towns and cities across Massachusetts to raise money for cancer research. This year, one Duxbury resident honored a lifelong friend by raising nearly $30,000.
Steven Bowen, a Duxbury resident for over 16 years, started participating in the Duxbury Beach Triathlon when he first moved to town. After he completed several triathlons, a friend convinced him to try to bike in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a race that spans 190 miles across the Bay State. After being egged on by his friend to do the ride, Bowen finally gave in.
“At that point I honestly had never ridden farther than 30 miles,” he said. “I just took it on and did it.”
Bowen said he initially became interested in the ride because of the physical challenge, but before long he was learning about the other riders and their stories. While learning of other people’s connections to cancer, whether through the fights of family and friends or through their own fight, Bowen thought about his own connections.
When Bowen’s mother died at 49 from colon cancer, the lack of technology prevented her from receiving treatment that would work effectively. Bowen’s wife’s father also passed away from cancer, so he never got to meet his father-in-law and his wife never got to meet her mother-in-law.
“That is what started me down this path,” he said. “There’s purpose in the fact that it is for a good cause and each year what I have found is that there are so many people who are connected to cancer. Almost everyone has been touched by it.”
It has now been nine years since Bowen took his maiden journey across the state and in that time he founded his own consulting company, Maine Pointe, which is located on Washington Street. Early on, John Spears, Bowen’s friend of over 22 years, joined Maine Pointe and served a pivotal role in the company. Spears was a retired colonel who had previously run the military’s leadership development center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Working for Bowen, Spears’ role was first and foremost as a leader and organizational improvement mastermind.
Over the years, Spears had formed a relationship with Fu- dan University, in Shanghai, China. Every year, Spears took a trip to China where he host- ed a small business and leadership program. Two months ago, Spears left for his annual trip to China, but wasn’t feeling well when he landed and the next day he checked into a hospital. Not long after checking into the hospital, he was diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia. Because of his military status and the work he had continued to do for the military after his retirement, a private jet was sent to China to transport him back to the States.
Five weeks after being diagnosed, it was determined that the chemotherapy treatment was not working for Spears, and he was put into hospice care. Two weeks ago he passed away, at the age of 65.
“It was eight weeks from diagnosis,” Bowen said. “It just goes to show you how far we still have to go with cancer research and treatment.”
This year, Bowen rode across the state on Aug. 2 and 3 in memory of his good friend and with an even stronger re- solve to raise as much money as possible for research and treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In order to meet his goal of $30,000, Bowen made a vow to match every single donation that was made to him.
“I do it because the PMC is so unique in the fact that every dollar goes straight to Dana Farber,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is very personal to me.”
Over the years, Bowen has raised a total of about $175,000 for Dana Farber through the PMC. Along the arduous trip, Bowen said he first hits his physical limits and then his emotional limits.
“There are a number of places along the way that children who are fighting cancer, or who are survivors, gather together to cheer on the riders and thank them,” he said. “I get choked up just thinking about it. It’s hard to describe. It just keeps you going.”
While anyone with an over-abundance of ambition can bike 100 miles, Bowen said it’s the cause that truly matters.
“This year’s PMC was particularly special to me,” he said. “It’s truly an amazing event.”