I never intimately understood the power of a symbol until my experiences with the Pan-Mass Challenge, the nation’s number one sports fundraising bikathon and a long-time client. I was introduced to the PMC in 2008; two years after my dad died of cancer. I remember at my father’s funeral the priest blessed my wife Jane’s swollen belly and our unborn child.
It’s only fitting that, more than 5 years later, I’m still committed to the PMC. And the circle of life has even more meaning to me in its manifestation as the symbol that best represents the PMC.
Billy Starr, who founded the PMC in 1980, created the original PMC bike graphic. It has evolved some over the years but not much. He also created the tagline “Closer By the Mile.” So we were tasked with taking these brand elements and designing them into a “logo.” It became a circular badge of honor that encapsulates the history, commitment, and hope of this 200-mile, two-day ride to cure cancer. It truly is a circle of life.
Inspired by Billy’s fond memory of red as the first t-shirt color, the primary circular badge is also red. The color commemorates a more than 30-year passion that began in Billy’s dad’s basement and which has now grown into a cause with national and international exposure. Cumulatively, the PMC has raised more than $270M. That amount speaks to the dedication that surrounds the Pan-Mass Challenge. When you meet someone at the PMC event, invariably the first question is, “how long have you been riding?” The answer is the very measure of commitment and pride. “It’s my 8th year.” “Whoa, that’s great!” “It’s my 25th year.” Holy cow, that’s incredible!” “I’m honored to meet you and good luck!”
After we created the first badge we knew we would create more. There had to be something special for those who go above and beyond. Like the “Heavy Hitters” who raise more money than any other riders. Then there are the “heavy hitters” who raise the top 10%. It was also important to acknowledge those who are “Living Proof.” These are people who have fought and survived cancer. And finally, there are those who have ridden 10+, 20+, and, yes, even 30+ years. Each group, from the youngest rider to the oldest, is special to the PMC.
I see the badges on cars and on saddlebags on bikes. I see a badge every night when I drive home. A PMC flag hangs outside of a doorway as I enter Swampscott, Massachusetts. When I see these circular badges of honor, I think of the PMC. I think of my Dad. I think of how these symbols have been woven into the fabric of my life. These badges have meaning. They have honor. They have hope. They strengthen a brand and, even more importantly, they strengthen people. Each badge is a circle of life.