30 Years Later, Massachusetts Couple Rides In Bike Race Where They Met

Jim and Carolyn Morrissey will be joined by their daughter Kara.

Carolyn and Jim Morrissey, Carolyn and Jim Morrissey with daughter Kara. Photos provided.

Carolyn and Jim Morrissey, together and with daughter Kara/Photos provided

In 1986, Carolyn Rafferty arrived at her first Autumn Escape Bike Trek, a fundraising event for the American Lung Association. She didn’t know where she was supposed to go, so she asked a stranger named Jim Morrissey. By chance, the two bikers, both from Massachusetts, struck up a conversation.

During the 160-mile bike ride, Jim and Carolyn rode together and fell in love. “Over the course of three days, you really get to know somebody,” Carolyn says.  

They rode again the next year, but after marrying in 1988 and starting a family, the Trek fell by the wayside.

This year, however, they’re making their triumphant return to the race, accompanied by their daughter Kara, who wanted to cross the Trek off her bucket list. When she told her parents and found out it was their 30th anniversary, the three decided to complete the race together.

“They both met while they were doing something amazing. That carried into how they built their family and the morals they passed along to my sisters and I,” Kara says. “Doing this Trek is just a continuation of that.”

Carolyn and Jim were first drawn to the Trek because they were interested in lung health. Jim’s father was a heavy smoker, as were both of Carolyn’s parents. Since their first ride, Jim’s father and mother died of lung cancer and lung disease, respectively, and Carolyn’s father has been treated for lung cancer.

“I have always felt the importance of exercising because I’m faced with working with cancer patients every day,” Carolyn, an oncology nurse, says. “I know the importance and how fortunate you are to have your health.”

Though all three Morrisseys are excited to cross the finish line together, they know they’re there for a bigger reason.

“It’s certainly not about us,” Carolyn says. “It’s about the Lung Association and sharing the good that they do.”

Jim agrees. “You’re doing it for a purpose, for a good cause,” Jim says. “That’s all the motivation I need.”

The Autumn Escape Bike Trek takes place from September 23 to 25, and goes from Plymouth to Provincetown. For more information, visit action.lung.org.