Jim Boland of Fuddruckers tells reporter Ethan Forman Why He Has A Reason to Ride for Cancer Research
(Story appeared on front page of Gloucester Daily Times and the Salem News)
DANVERS — When cyclists finish their rides on Sunday in the A Reason to Ride bike-a-thon for cancer research, they’ll be rewarded with a free cookout, courtesy of Fuddruckers.
Turns out, the restaurant is not just the presenting sponsor of the local charity ride. Over the past decade, Jim Boland, a Gloucester resident who owns four Fuddruckers franchises with his wife, Jan, has formed a deep connection to the ride — one that developed because of a friend who died from cancer in 2009.
Ten years ago, Boland saw a flyer for the ride, which benefits cancer research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He called organizer Tom DesFosses, a Peabody resident and brain cancer survivor, offering to help — and nothing has been the same since.
“The ride wouldn’t happen without him,” DesFosses said simply.
Back in 2008, the Rev. Howie Rich of Danvers was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Rich, a retired health and physical education teacher at Danvers High, was also the the minister at Boland’s church, Union Congregational Church in Magnolia.
Boland was taking Rich for his chemotherapy treatments at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, under the care of neuro-oncologist Dr. Eric Wong, who was also Tom DesFosses’ doctor.
Boland recalls spotting a flyer for A Reason to Ride in an office there. What caught his eye was that the ride was supporting Dr. Wong’s research.
“The next visit with Howie,” Boland said, “we drive down. He’s getting his chemo, and Dr. Wong just happened to come in to check on him. And I said, ‘By any chance, are you Dr. Wong that is involved in this ride?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ And I said, ‘We would like to get involved somehow.’”