Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes #10: Ann Handley

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

Ann Handley is someone who I, as a public relations professional, have come across for years, going back to the Internet bubble and her days with ClickZ. Now, she spends her professional life as Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, a great resource for anyone touching on the marketing profession.

A year or more ago, we finally met at a local social media event, and found an interesting personal bond that I will let Ann describe below (let’s just say I sometimes call her “homegirl”).

Ann also keeps a great personal blog, Annarchy, which contains some very personal and extremely well-written posts. That blog is the reason I was particularly eager to get her answers to my questions once she became (for the second time!) a sponsor of my Pan-Mass Challenge ride. Here they are:

– Why did you sponsor me in the Pan-Mass Challenge?

The PMC raises money for cancer research and treatment, of course, which unfortunately is an issue near and dear to my heart. Cancer is so much a part of my family, it practically has a seat at Thanksgiving: Both of my parents died relatively young from various forms of lung cancer, when I was a teenager (my dad) and then post-college (my mother). Two of my aunts have struggled with breast cancer, and even I have had minor brushes with it.

When you grow up with cancer as part of your family, you can’t help but feel that it’s only a matter of time before you and others close to you will be similarly affected.

All that… plus, Doug and I grew up in the same neighborhood. And though we didn’t know each other — and only discovered our common roots decades later, when we met at an industry party, it nonetheless is a bond.

– How did you first hear about the Pan-Mass Challenge?

I’ve sponsored others, on and off, throughout the years. But it’s only recently that I’ve truly grokked the importance of PMC’s mission. Plus, I admire the dedication and commitment the riders make, especially those middle-aged folks (note: who you calling “middle-aged?”) who challenge themselves to do it, and by “it” I mean the ride itself, but also the hours of training through the cold and dark New England winter.

Being in my 40s, I know the physical part isn’t easy… I have to lie down after walking my dogs around the block. ; )

Can you imagine the kind of mental and physical dedication it takes to ride (165) miles over 2 days… even for someone as young and healthy and virile (note: [!]) as Doug? ; )

– Are you giving in the name or memory of someone you know who has had cancer ?

No one special. But at the same time, lots of people. In other words, there are many families like my own… our experience is far from unique. Sadly.

– Name one interesting fact or story that makes you unique and interesting.

Oh jeez…. I hate this question….

Well, I guess I’d say that I’m full of contradictions. I’m at once confident and insecure. I’m competent and unsure of my abilities. I’m intensely private, and I bare it all on my personal blog.

And fundamentally, I’m not very interesting… except when I am.

Ann, if you are one thing, you are interesting. Thank you for sponsoring me again. And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Please consider joining Ann to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.


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