East Brunswick resident plans Father’s Day bike ride to fundraise for cancer research

ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

EAST BRUNSWICK–Using his passion for bicycle riding to help raise money for cancer research, resident Jeffrey Blivaiss will hold a Father’s Day Bike Ride for the Pan Mass Challenge.

The Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) is an annual bike-a-thon that is usually held the first weekend in August. Donations from the PMC support lifesaving cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. One hundred percent of their donations go directly to the institute, according to Blivaiss.

Blivaiss said he has lived in the township since 1984, having moved there as a kid. After law school, he moved back to East Brunswick to start his own family, living a mile from the house he grew up in.

“I started riding in the Pan Mass Challenge in 2012. My wife’s aunt had leukemia and her son was raising money for his ride in the PMC. Rather than merely contribute to his ride, I chose to ride myself and raise money to support the PMC,” Blivaiss said. “Unfortunately, my wife’s aunt passed away a month after our ride. My parents are both cancer survivors, and I have other family and friends who have fought their battles against cancer, but regrettably, I’ve also had family and friends who have not.”
Blivaiss said he continued to ride for five years in honor and memory of those people and to help raise money to conduct further cancer research.
For the Father’s Day Bike Ride event, Blivaiss said he, Brian Enda, Gene Forman, John Mitchell, Joshua Stein and Alex Zernitsky will ride their bikes for 25 miles on June 21.
Blivaiss said the dads will start at a central location in East Brunswick and end at the East Brunswick Public Library’s parking lot on Civic Center Drive.
“I had stopped cycling 2017 to 2018 due to injuries, but I started to consider getting back to riding,” Blivaiss said. “Due to COVID-19, I was looking for an outdoor activity that both of my kids would like so I started cycling regularly with them and had no physical issues and both of my kids enjoyed biking around town.”
At the same time, Blivaiss said he noticed that, as a result of COVID-19, PMC chose to continue its annual ride in a virtual capacity so without having to drive to Massachusetts to ride he thought it would be convenient to set up a route locally to ride and raise money for the cause.
“I decided to ask a couple of my friends if they would ride with me; they immediately said yes and that led to a larger group. It only seemed appropriate to have a group of dads ride on Father’s Day,” Blivaiss said.
Preparing for the ride, Blivaiss said he tries to ride a few days a week and for the last few weeks he has been riding the route to get comfortable with it.
“The PMC became a very important part of my life because everybody is affected by cancer. It has always been a way for me to give back, honor the survivors, and pay tribute to those who have passed,” Blivaiss said. “It was heartbreaking for me the years I skipped it due to back surgery and injuries. I truly missed cycling so one of the good things that came out of our COVID-19 experience has been getting back into it and bringing a couple of dads together for a bike ride on Father’s Day.”
For more information about the Pan Mass Challenge, visit www.pmc.org.
Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.