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February 1, 2004

Hard Days Journey for Health: A trader rides against the dreaded disease.

By Gregory Bresiger

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  • Hard Days Journey for Health: A trader rides against the dreaded disease.

Cancer always seems to happen to the other guy or the other family. But then several years ago Ed Gallagher, a veteran trader, found that cancer had struck home.

"My younger sister Eileen got breast cancer so when I heard about an event to raise money for cancer research, I signed up immediately," he said. "She is doing very well now. She is very strong."

Gallagher, each August for the past five years, has been one of some 3,600 cyclists who participate in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC). This is a 192-mile bike-a-thon through New England over two days. The popular event raises money for cancer research.

PMC has many big sponsors including the Boston Red Sox. Last year it took in some $16 million. Gallagher, an equity block sales trader with Bank of New York (BNY), has been in the securities business more than 20 years. He works out of BNY's offices in New York City, commuting from Westfield, New Jersey.

Gallagher, who is married with two children, has been one of the more successful participants in the PMC. He raised some $28,000 through sponsorships last year and a total of $130,000 over the past five years. More than 92 percent of this goes to the Jimmy Fund, which is the fund-raising arm of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass.

Power of Persuasion

How has Gallagher been able to persuade so many people to dig deep?

"I write a letter to friends and others explaining what the event is about and I explain my personal involvement in the event," he said.

The race is not for those who get on a bike from time to time and go a few blocks around the neighborhood. It usually begins on an early Saturday morning in western Massachusetts. Riders go across the state 110 miles to the Massachussets Maritime Academy on Cape Cod in Bourne, Mass. That's where riders stay overnight.

Gallagher and the other cyclists rise and shine early next morning, finishing the race, traveling another 82 miles through Cape Cod and ending in Provincetown.

The 45-year-old Wall Street pro has been an avid cyclist since his high school days. He is an admirer of the great Lance Armstrong, riding a similar bike used by the Tour de France champion.

The PMC's 192-mile course is difficult in some areas. To finish it requires a cyclist to be in good shape and to maintain a steady speed. Gallagher is able to do that because he has a rigorous training program. He'll ride five or six times a week in the spring, but he has a year-round schedule. Often he'll awaken at the crack of dawn to train. In the wintertime, he'll ride a stationary bike in a gym and combine this with some outside cycling.

Gallagher says he's trying to toughen his back, leg and stomach muscles. "You have to be in great shape for cycling," he said. "You have to have a strong back and abs."