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Team Perry Story

In June of 1999, only a year and a half into their marriage, Melissa and Perry S. Levy returned to their Natick, MA home after an amazing trip to Japan … Perry started feeling ill. They assumed he had picked up a stomach bug or virus during their travels but shortly thereafter, over July 4th weekend, Perry was diagnosed with cancer of the small bowel and 3 ½ months later he was gone.  

At age 32, Perry was the picture of health – having completed 4 marathons and countless biathlons and triathlons, none of it made sense.  Perry had an incredible spirit of competition and the motivation necessary to succeed in all endeavors (at work and at play). He embraced each day of his life with passion and enthusiasm and the journey that Melissa, her family and the Levy family have traveled since Perry’s death is an incredible tribute to his memory.

In 2001, with some encouragement from a good friend, Melissa decided to ride the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) – a 192 mile charity bike-athon across Massachusetts. It was a perfect tribute to Perry and all that he represented.  She and her friend donned matching jerseys that read "Perry S. Levy - You are the wind at our backs."…and that was the beginning of a 16 year journey that sees no end in sight!  

In 2002, Melissa recruited her father and a few other close friends (including Perry's uncle) to ride in Perry's memory. In the years following, the team has grown to include 2 of Perry’s brothers (Matt and Evan), Perry’s cousins, Melissa’s sister and some amazing old friends and new friends. Perry’s parents are deeply involved with the PMC and supporting the team members that ride in their son’s memory!  The Levy’s make sure the team is well dressed with training t-shirts and custom designed riding jerseys (designed by Melissa’s mom) and they throw a huge pre-ride dinner on the night before each PMC to celebrate with the team and their families and wish them well in the days that follow. Perry’s father, Coleman, is a "virtual” rider and has personally raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.  This year the team will have almost 70 riders! In 2015 they raised close to $500,000 and reached their 5.5 Million Dollar milestone.  In 2016 they are challenging themselves to raise $500,000 and reach 6 Million Dollars! 

Shortly after Perry's death the families established the Perry S. Levy Fund for Gastrointestinal Cancer Research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Based on the money raised over the past 15 years, they have had the proud honor of appointing a Fellow at the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center (GCC) at Dana Farber. The team's fundraising supports the fellow's annual salary as well as research efforts at Dana Farber. The fellow specifically focuses research on cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. These cancers will represent almost 1/4 of all new cancer diagnosis this year and will be responsible for 1/3 of the cancer deaths this year. Dana Farber is making wonderful advances in the treatment of these cancers and the team is very proud to be able to contribute to their efforts.  As Perry’s dad Coleman likes to say "we are certainly making lemonade out of lemons!”

 

Matt, Melissa and Evan
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