Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes #7: Fran Berger

This is an ongoing series profiling some of the people I believe to be the real heroes of the Pan-Mass Challenge: the sponsors who donate their money to fund cancer research. Please considering joining them by donating any amount to

Though I have been using social media to raise money for the Pan-Mass Challenge, the people supporting me as sponsors have come from everywhere in my life. A person that has loomed very large in my life is Fran Berger, who served as my adviser at Emerson College in Boston, and just as important, as General Manager for student-run station WERS-FM, where I learned my original profession. For 18 years, Fran was teacher, mentor, counselor, den-mother, and a million other things to those of us who passed through WERS between 1980 and 1998.

My stint at WERS was marked by the development of my love for jazz music, the sharpening of my audio editing skills, and lessons in leadership as the station’s program director for a semester. My best memories were always hanging out in Fran’s office, where I ended up taking epic naps across from her desk during some of our “Live Music Week” fundraisers (I used to put my feet up on her desk- rude child- trapping her in her office while I snoozed), and where she once handed me the phone with the program director for WBUR-FM on the other end, leading to my first professional job in radio.

On June 6, 2009, as part of the WERS 60th anniversary celebration, Fran was one of the first group inducted into the new WERS Hall of Fame. It was my pleasure- and that of several classmates and students from other generations- to attend and see her honored for giving so much time to us at such an important time in our lives.

Students Honoring Fran Berger: Kelly Lawman, Fran, Jennifer Amerine, Me

Students Honoring Fran Berger: Kelly Lawman, Fran, Jennifer Amerine, Me

Now, Fran works for the New England Institute of Art and remains a part of many of her students’ lives. Donating to sponsor me in the PMC is just a small part of that. Fran has donated to several riders over the years, so I am delighted and honored that she has chosen to sponsor me the last two years. While she did not formally donate in someone’s name, she allowed me to share that she mother and sister-in-law to cancer (lung and breast cancer) so cancer has had an effect on her life as it has so many others.

Last? Fran’s answer to my question about what makes her “unique or interesting:”

I was on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour (the precursor to today’s American Idol, in a Dixieland band that lost to a spoon player! How many people can claim that!

Thank you, Fran (for everything)! And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Here’s the link for you to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.

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