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PEDALING FOR A CURE FOR CANCER. We ride because we can. We ride for those who can not. We ride because the training rides and the 192 miles on the two days of the Pan Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) are nothing compared to living with or dying from cancer.

Click here for information on donating platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, or call 617-632-3206.

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WHY WE WEAR #22

Ron Burton 1964 Topps Football Card Ron Burton grew up poor in Springfield, Ohio. His mother died when he was a sophomore in high school and his father left. His grandmother who was a gospel preacher, kept him in the church and living a certain way. In the eighth grade, a high school football coach taught him how to train. Five days a week each summer, he used to go to bed at 7:30, get up at four o’clock in the morning and run 7 ½ miles. As a senior, he was selected All-American, All-Ohio, and Most Valuable Player and was widely considered the best high school player in the State of Ohio.

Ron never dreamed that playing Friday night football at Springfield High School would lead him to college on full scholarship. He received 47 scholarship offers including offers from legendary coach Woody Hayes of Ohio State. Ron shocked the football world by choosing the affluence of Northwestern.

Ineligible to play in his freshman year, during Ron’s junior and senior years he lead Northwestern from last to number one in the nation. Ron was drafted No. 1 by three pro teams including the Boston Patriots of the newly formed AFL, the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the Rough Riders of the CFL.

As a Patriot, in 1962, Ron established himself as one of the AFL’s premier running back putting up big numbers; 1,449 total yards running, receiving and on kick returns. He was voted to the second AFL All-Star team. Ron finished fourth in the league in rushing that year, leading the Patriots in that category.

Patriot head coach Mike Holovak wrote a book titled “Violence Every Sunday” about the first six years of the Patriots franchise. Holovak says, “Burton would have been one of the all-time greats, but he was unlucky physically. Everything happened to him.” He missed almost two entire seasons due to injuries including a back injury in 1963 from which no other pro athlete had ever recovered and played again in the same season. Ron was traded to Kansas City on January 29, 1966 and retired after the 1966 pre-season.

After Ron playing days, he joined the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Companies in Boston and advanced his way through the management-training program to a lucrative career in insurance sales. While with the Patriots, Ron discovered he had a talent for public speaking. This led him to an executive position in public relations with John Hancock where he developed into one of the nation’s most dynamic motivational speakers.

From touching others with his words, he knew he wanted to do more. In 1985, he purchased 305-acres in Hubbardston, Mass., and established the Ron Burton Training Village. The five-week camp serves 11- to 18-year old young men from all walks of life and over 90 percent receive full scholarships. Today, three different colleges provide five full scholarships to graduates of the RBTV.

Ron and his wife JoAnn have raised five children: Steve is a sports newscaster with WBZ TV-4 in Boston; Elizabeth is a teacher in Dallas; Ron, Jr. is Director of Community Relations with the Boston Red Sox; Philip is a local cable anchor for ATT 3 “Hometown Sports;” Paul is an ordained minister.

In 1999 at 64 years of age, Ron was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone cancer) and given one to three years to live. “After I was diagnosed with cancer, I haven’t had one depressed day since. Not one. I focus on all my blessings. All I want to do now is to serve. I am just a servant. You take the silver and the gold, let me help other people,” says Ron. Sadly on September 13, 2003 Ron’s fight ended.

The Patriots annual community service award is named after Burton, and is awarded to the current Patriots player who best exemplifies the qualities he displayed.

Ron Burton was treated at DFCI and became great friends with Dr. Ken Anderson. Dr. Anderson is one of the world leading researchers on multiple myeloma. 100% of the funds the Patriots Platelet Pedalers raise through the PMC are earmarked for Dr. Anderson’s continued efforts.

That is why we wear the # 22