MALONE — Normand Thibodeau is training for a grueling 194-mile bicycle race; the work is a tribute to his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 1992.
He will participate in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge on Aug. 4 and 5, a two-day event from Sturbridge to Providencetown, Mass., which raises money for the Jimmy Fund and sponsors cancer treatment and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Thibodeau lives in Malone and works as a multi-cultural ambassador for Guest Services at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
He’s seeking donors and ride sponsors and is also holding a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Family School in Malone.
This is the 33rd-annual race and the 13th time Thibodeau will be riding in it and raising funds.
He hopes to raise $4,300 in sponsorships and donations this year to help other families experiencing the devastation cancer can bring.
“My mother died of multiple melanoma 20 years ago,” he said. “She was young, just 56.
“This disease does not look at who you are. This disease just does what it wants to do.”
Cancer has impacted families for generations, and Thibodeau believes events like this will one day eliminate that pain and suffering.
“Here in the North Country, I know there are some good things going on, like Relay for Life,” he said, “and I’m thinking about starting my own team in time for it next year.”
But until then, he is throwing himself into training for the voyage ahead.
“I started in January in the house and try to ride an average of 30 miles a day, but I have to go more long distances to get ready for a two-day ride,” he said.
He’s ridden to Tupper Lake and Lake Placid “and almost to Ogdensburg” to get in shape for the August ride, a trip he hasn’t taken since 2007.
“It’s an emotional ride,” Thibodeau said. “The people are there, sharing their stories.
“I really wanted to ride this year. I’m turning 55, and it’s the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death.
“I’ve got good reasons to do it.”
HOW TO HELP
He can also be reached by email at email@example.com or his website, www.mapleride.org.
Tickets for Wednesday’s spaghetti dinner are $5 per person for a meal that includes spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad, dinner rolls and coffee or iced tea.