Guest Blogger: Meredith Starr, Director of Stewardship at the Pan-Mass Challenge, on Coming Together to Battle Cancer

To commemorate the launch of the Bike Charm Bangle, we’re excited to welcome Meredith Starr, Director of Stewardship at the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) and wife of Billy Starr, Founder of Pan-Mass Challenge, as a guest blogger. Below Meredith discusses the mission of the PMC, what Alex and Ani means to her, and how partnerships like ours help raise both awareness and funds for the battle against cancer.

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One needs to look no further than the company ethos to see the synergy between Alex and Ani and our organization, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.

Alex and Ani is committed to building a culture that focuses entirely on mindful actions. Our products are hand crafted in America. Our items are designed for longevity, as artisanal pieces that can be passed from one generation to the next. To us, sustainability is an essential idea that means contributing to a new way of thinking and acting that considers the wellbeing of our planet, our communities, and our individual paths. We empower individuals to actively create the world they want to live in. Alex and Ani’s ethos is living consciously, turning a lifestyle brand into a way of life.

The PMC was founded by my husband, Billy Starr, after he lost his mother, uncle and cousin to cancer. What started as a humble, grassroots effort has grown into the nation’s most successful athletic fundraiser. Since its 1980 inception, the PMC has raised $414 million for adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. Today, the PMC is the model of efficient fundraising, annually contributing 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar to charity. This would not be possible without the support from generous sponsors like Alex and Ani and other philanthropic partners that will enable us to raise a record-breaking $40 million this year alone!

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As the Director of Stewardship at the PMC, I see firsthand how the money raised by riders is utilized by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and how important these funds are to enable the dedicated staff of scientists, nurses and doctors to pursue cutting edge research and develop the best patient care and treatment in the world.

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Participants in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge embrace a culture which values healthy living and giving back. PMC‘ers are mindful of passing these values onto the next generation and on doing their part to make the world a better place. They are community minded and are interested in contributing to a sustainable and healthy future. It is easy to see why we are so thrilled about our partnership with Alex and Ani and how honored we are to have been selected by their Charity by Design program. Our signature bicycle bangle will raise tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research and treatment and will serve to empower those affected by cancer worldwide!

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Long before our partnership with Alex and Ani, I was a huge fan of this amazing remarkable company! I have many favorite Alex and Ani bangles of my own and enjoy stacking them with other bracelets and putting together different combinations, depending on how I am feeling or where I am going. Words are physical manifestations of thoughts and are so powerful. In my work as an occupational therapist, I teach patients about the power of affirmations and positive thinking. When facing illness or recovery from an injury, believing in positivity and healing can be transformational. My patients often ask to “read” my bangles, a welcome opportunity for me to pass on a healing vibration. A simple act like this transference of positive energy can alter a therapeutic session. One of my patients is a student of Jewish mysticism and the mystical school of thought known as Kabbalah. On the day of our first session together, I was wearing my Eye of Horus bangle which embodies properties of protection and warding off evil. It opened the door to a fascinating discussion about spirituality that we never would have had if I had not been wearing this bracelet. These connections are a meaningful part of my everyday practice.

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I love the versatility of the different collections and regularly give Alex and Ani jewelry as gifts to friends and family members of all ages. I love that each product is “infused with positive energy” and designed around symbols of empowerment and protection. The first Alex and Ani bracelets I ever received were a birthday gift years ago from one of my best friends. She is a breast cancer survivor and is so proud to wear her Young and Strong bangle, one of the first of the Charity by Design bangles that Alex and Ani made. It has gotten her through many challenging days. I recently gave the Seven Swords bangle to another close friend who was diagnosed with cancer. She wears it to every chemotherapy appointment and channels its strength to get her through those difficult and long hours of treatment. My lovely daughter, Hannah, would be “lost” without her Saint Anthony bangle – a family inside joke since Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost articles and she is forever misplacing things! And my sweet daughter, Sophia, literally radiates with positivity when she wears her Star of Venus bangle. Their gift to my mom a few weeks ago for Mother’s Day was the Grandmother bangle. My mom wears it every day. Apropos of this season, I think the Path of Life Sacred Studs necklace is the perfect graduation gift. It is emblematic of life’s zenith moments and represents the infinite love, possibilities and the twists and turns life has in store.

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Finally, I want to say a few words about the extraordinary corporate culture that makes Alex and Ani an incredible company and a wonderful place to work. The synergy we at the PMC feel with Alex and Ani extends to the core of their philosophy of positive energy, a culture created thanks to the leadership, vision and passion that Founder, Creative Director, and CEO, Carolyn Rafaelian, embodies. The Charity by Design arm of the company is an inspirational example of the power of giving back. Any philanthropic organization fortunate enough to partner with Alex and Ani through the Charity by Design program will find themselves surrounded by passionate people who want to harness the power of a successful business to give back to the community.

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On behalf of everyone at the PMC, thank you, Alex and Ani, for your leadership and generosity. We are inspired by your commitment to positive words and powerful actions.

Alex and Ani is “a lifestyle brand, but more importantly, it’s a way-of-life brand” says Carolyn Rafaelian. At the PMC, we feel the same way!

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Want to help the Pan-Mass Challenge in the fight against cancer? Through December 2015, 20% of proceeds received by Alex and Ani from selling the Bike Charm Bangle, with a minimum donation of $25,000, will be donated to Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon organized to help raise money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Shop the Bike Charm Bangle.

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This post was written by Brendon Cunha