I remember moving to the Columbus Ohio Area for work and thinking, “Ohio, really?”. Growing up in Michigan this is how any girl from The Mitt would think. The thing I figured I would miss the most was “community”. As with my moves in the past, I knew sports would be a big part of building that community support system back up. I just didn’t know it would be to this extent. Enter Pelotonia.
That summer a coworker asked me if I biked. I nearly laughed out loud. Sure I have a bike, due to a few sprint triathlons I had completed, but was I a Cyclist? NO. His invitation to go for a ride set the trap. He mentioned he would be riding the Pelotonia bike tour for cancer research next month and it was something fun I should consider for next year. His comment surprised me. One, I just said I’m not a Cyclist (at the time I didn’t even own a pair of bike shorts). Two, I assumed he was going to hit me up for a donation, not invite me to join an event a year away. Slightly caught off guard I shrugged it off that I would “look into it”. End of story.
It wasn’t the end of the story, more like the very beginning. Two weeks later on a hot August weekend I woke up to watch the local news and all I saw was GREEN. Coverage on the Pelotonia bike tour and green arrow wearing cyclists covered the news, downtown and local business everywhere I went! What in the world was this event?! I had done heart walks, I had done bike tours for brain cancer, and I had done countless 5ks for every cause known to man. How was this any different?
(If you look at about 1 minute in you might see me!)
In the months following, the green didn’t go away. I saw yard signs on lawns, Arrow magnets on every other car in the city; I saw shirts and FB fundraiser events…months after the event it was still everywhere! I was intrigued and got my friend to tell me more. The hook was set.
Pelotonia was created 10 years ago by Columbus area business with the intent to sponsor and support a nonprofit generating funds for cancer research. What came out of this can only be described as a movement. Pelotonia doesn’t fully describe themselves as a bike tour or event but instead sum it up as an “experience that includes a weekend of cycling, entertainment, and volunteerism” but even that description falls short. So, what makes it different? I think the answer is their “100%” mantra.
Due to corporate sponsorship of the nonprofit, Pelotonia pledges 100% of any money raised by its riders goes 100% to cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. $172.4 Million later they have kept their word for 10 years. You will not see mail outs, name labels and stickers coming from Pelotonia. You will not see parties and expensive dinners paid for with rider raised funds from Pelotonia. You will see a community come together to face one of the scariest diseases of our time. You will see rider funds wrapped into grants funding the most cutting edge ideas in cancer research today. You will see riders come from all 50 states in the U.S. (and many other countries to boot) fight for their ONE GOAL motto. END CANCER.
This was my 6th year in the event. Every year I seem to have another loved one to ride for. Cancer is such a small word for such a vast array of diagnoses and lives changed. With distances ranging from 25 miles to 200 miles I have found friends at every walk of life who have participated. Just like cancer doesn’t care if you have kids or goals or decades left of light, this tour doesn’t care if you are a Tour de France athlete or borrowing a mountain bike from your neighbor. We are truly in this together.
I assumed sooner or later the event would lose its luster for me. I would get bored with the route, not have time to train, maybe the organization would have a scandal, or maybe my donors would get sick of funding me. However, the opposite has happened. This year will be my highest raised and my support team is stronger than ever. From my donors (shout out, I LOVE you all) to my friends I train with (you know who you crazies are) I have found some serious support. This, my 6th year I still joke the event is the perfect combination of laughter, tears and sweat. Every year my cup runeth over with the joy of reading more “Thank you” signs and seeing more survivor jerseys. I think I’ve found my community and for that I Thank You Pelotonia and Columbus as a whole.
Thinking you might want to learn more about Pelotonia? Their website is epic and I highly recommend starting at the top right IMPACT button. Learning the WHY is a big motivator to buying your first Homage Tee or planning for volunteering or cycling in next year’s event! If riding is not for you, and volunteering doesn’t fit into your schedule; think about donating. No matter how big or small your commitment, it goes 100% toward the cause, 100% to fueling our community, 100% feel good returns. Lastly, don’t let insecurities or fear stop you from any of your goals. If you have any questions about getting started OR maybe you already cycle and you’re looking for your next gear, hit me up I would love to work with you!