Former Victorian bicycling 192 miles for cancer

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

July 27, 2012 at 2:27 a.m.

Sarah Branfman never imagined she could bike 192 miles - after all, it wasn't that long ago that she couldn't even ride a bike.

But this ride was important, so she taught herself because the ride supports those battling cancer or who have lost the battle, including her cousin 23-year-old Jared Branfman, who died in 2005 of spinal and cranial cancer.

"You have your adrenaline going and your emotions are roaring," said Branfman, who graduated New York University and continues to live there.

She graduated from Memorial High School in 2005.

The bicycle ride is the 33rd annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge on Aug. 4 and 5. She is part of Team Kermit, a group of more than 50 families and friends of Jared Branfman.

This is Branfman's second year involved in the challenge, but her first year to ride. Last year she volunteered.

The route is from Sturbridge to Provincetown. It raises money for the Sunflowers for Life fund for pediatric brain and spinal cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

"It's not being green," used to be Jared Branfman's mantra, Branfman said. He was a huge fan of Kermit the Frog.

Team Kermit has raised more than $1.4 million for cancer research since it started in 2005, Branfman said.

"I'm not the most athletic of people," Branfman said laughing. "It's a grueling weekend."

What helps her get fired up is her memories of children with cancer standing along the routes cheering. Some wear shirts saying, "This year I turned (age) because of you."

Branfman's sister, Shaina Branfman, is also joining in, but she will be doing a shorter ride.

Branfman has trained by riding through New York's Central Park.

Branfman's goal is to have her entire family join in. Her father, Gary Branfman, is Victoria plastic surgeon.

Branfman is trying to raise money through the challenge's web site. She has set a goal for $6,300. The team's goal is $290,000.

"None of this is easy, but we're going to get through it," she said.



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