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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Julie Zaveloff Finds Husband Through PMC

By Christopher Tremblay,

Staff Sports Writer

The year was 2017 and Julie Zaveloff was getting ready to take part in her first Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) bike ride. 

The Ashland native had taught a spin class with friend Jackie McCrillis, who had already been riding the PMC for five years, when she asked Zaveloff to join her. 

“I figured, why not? I had done a 108-mile bike ride before,” she said. “I may have been a bike rider, but I had never done anything like the PMC, and I really didn’t know what to expect. We did the Sturbridge to Provincetown 2-day route and that first day (110 miles) made for a long day.”

Zaveloff, who had taken part in numerous 20- and 30-mile bike rides on the weekends, was in for a surprise once she left the gate at Sturbridge that early Saturday morning six years ago. 

“Like I said, I had no idea what was to come, but I soon found out that it was going to be fun,” the Ashland resident said. “You’re out there riding with so many other people, but I never imagined the amount of people that would be thanking us along the route the entire way. It was unbelievable.”

 As she road along the first day route, Zaveloff recalled all the people who were not only cheering her on, but also remembered all the signs saying, ‘Because of you, I’m Alive.’  

Although people were lining up in droves, the weather conditions that Saturday in early August were not the most favorable. 

“While we did have great weather on the second day, we got some rain on Saturday afternoon and I had never ridden in the rain before,” Zaveloff said. “It was not ideal conditions, it was slippery, and we couldn’t see in front of us. While we were soaked by the time we got to Bourne at the end of the day we were able to dry off and get warm; unfortunately, cancer patients can’t do that – at the end of the day they still have cancer.”

Prior to joining up with McCrillis on the PMC trail, Zaveloff noted that she had always wanted to hop on her bike and make the two-day trek but found the fundraising to be daunting. Lucky for her people have stepped up and made that part of the event much easier for her. 

In the beginning the Ashland resident wasn’t riding for anyone in particular, she was just riding because she could. Ten years ago, her Aunt Jo was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and was given 4-5 years to live. She got an extra five years of life before she finally succumbed to the disease. Then last November Zaveloff lost her father to liver cancer.

“After I lost my aunt I rode in her memory,” Zaveloff said. “Then I lost my dad and added him to my list. There are also other family members and friends that I ride for, so names continue to be added to my jersey. (Zaveloff pins pictures of all those she rides for on her jersey).”

While Zaveloff had been giving hope to Dana Farber patients over the last few years with her participation in the PMC she found something for herself in 2019 during the event.

 “Having already been riding as a part of Jackie’s team, I was introduced to my now husband in 2019. We got to talking at the end of the first day and then again on the boat coming home on Sunday from Provincetown,” she said. “During the reimagined ride of 2020 he proposed to me in Provincetown at the end of the event, it was a complete surprise. After we left Bourne on the second day he had the ring in his back pocket the entire second day of the ride.”

The two were married and rode their second PMC together this year as a married couple. Now that she has a partner to ride with her, she is looking to continue to take part in the nation’s single most successful athletic fundraiser, donating 100% of every rider’s raised money to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, as long as her body can handle it.

The PMC is designed to cater to all levels of cycling and fundraising ability. More than 800 riders and volunteers are cancer-survivors or current patients giving living proof to the PMC’s mission. Since its inception by Billy Star 42 years ago, the PMC has donated $831 million to cancer research and riders have even found true love both with the event and for themselves.