PELHAM — Shayna Silva was still in elementary school when she first cheered on her father, David, as he pedaled past the finish line at the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), a grueling, 200-mile bike ride to benefit cancer research.
While her father has long since traded in his bicycle for a “support staff” T-shirt, the Silvas have remained avid supporters of the cause over the years.
Wanting to find a way to involve her young niece and nephew, Shayna, now 29, and her father organized a Pelham PMC Kids Ride in 2013.
While there are now nearly 40 Kids Rides in New England, the Pelham event is the only one in southern New Hampshire. A Kids Ride for those in the Seacoast region will take place in New Castle later this fall.
David Silva said he’d first signed up for a Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride two decades ago after quitting smoking.
“It began as a personal challenge to myself,” the Pelham resident said. “I didn’t know anyone else who was riding, but I felt so supported along the way.”
After back problems forced David to retire from long-distance cycling, he and his daughter stayed on as event volunteers.
In 2003, after years of helping other families affected by cancer, the disease struck the Silva family.
Shayna’s uncle, Richard, succumbed to lung cancer the day after Christmas that year.
Then, in 2011, Shayna’s other uncle, and David’s brother, Joe, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Joe Silva died in February 2013 at the age of 60.
“It became very personal for us then,” said Shayna, who was close with both of her uncles.
In her uncle’s honor, she organized the Pelham event to support “Joe’s Patriots,” named for his fondness for the New England Patriots.
Shayna’s niece, Kayla Silva, 12, and nephew, Landen Silva, 8, were among the 36 young riders to participate in the first Kids Ride.
That event raised nearly $14,800 and this year the Silva family is hoping they can recruit at least 50 area kids to participate in the local ride.
During the ride, participants between the ages of 3-14 will pedal continuous loops around the Pelham Elementary School track for several hours. Afterwards, riders and their families will enjoy an after-party with face painting, games, raffles, snacks and appearances by the New England Revolution Street Team.
Shayna said she’s quite certain her Uncle Joe, a proud Air Force veteran, would approve of the day’s festivities.
“He was a pretty funny guy,” she said. “I think he’d really get a kick out of all this.”
The Pelham PMC Kids Ride will take place Sept. 6. Event hours are 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Pelham Elementary School, 61 Marsh Road in Pelham.
There is a $10 registration fee and a $25 fundraising minimum for each participant.
To register, visit http://kids.pmc.org. For more information, email Shayna Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-WE-CYCLE.