Keep up with one Pelotonia rider as he documents his journey in a yearlong blog
Stephanie Klimack's experience with family and friends with cancer had an impact on her. "I lost two grandparents to cancer, and I know so many people who have been affected by cancer," explains Klimack, 42, an employee at Huntington National Bank. "When I learned our bank was sponsoring Pelotonia and recruiting riders, it seemed like an interesting way to help with finding a cure for cancer."
In 2010, Klimack rode in Pelotonia, a two-day bike ride fundraiser for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute There are four ride options of varying distances between Columbus and Athens and back. Riders raise a specific amount of money depending on how far they go. This year's ride will take place Aug. 19–21.
'A Grassroots Effort'
Pelotonia is the brainchild of Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. "When I became CEO of The James, I realized we lacked a grassroots effort to raise money to prevent and cure cancer," explains Dr. Caligiuri, who was inspired by the success of the Pan-Mass Challenge bike event, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass. "The wonderful thing about Pelotonia is that 100 percent of the money raised by the riders goes directly to cancer research right here, right now, at Ohio State."
Last year's ride generated $7.8 million for cancer research — the result of funds raised by 4,047 riders. Major sponsors, such as Huntington National Bank, Limited Brands, Peggy and Richard Santulli, as well as Chemical Abstracts, Nationwide and AEP ensure that all money raised by the riders goes to the OSUCCC – James.
Klimack discovered the ride wasn't too difficult, even though she trained very little for it and she was not a bike rider. "I completed the 23-mile section to Groveport, although I had never ridden more than five or six miles at once before Pelotonia," notes Klimack. "I was fairly nervous, but the ride was wonderful."
Supporting the Best and Brightest
A portion of the funds raised from the ride is designated for the Pelotonia Fellowship Program. "The goal of this program is to encourage future cancer researchers by engaging them in cancer research right now," says Jeff Mason, director of the program. "Currently, we have 64 fellows that include undergraduates, graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral students from 12 of the 14 colleges at OSU. The fellowships are intended to direct the most promising, most accomplished and truly spectacular students toward cancer research."
"Pelotonia is very much a community effort that can also affect the culture in the organizations that form teams," says Dr. Caligiuri. "It's also very inspiring to see patients along the route with signs saying, 'Thank you for riding,' and 'The James saved my life.' It's a truly moving experience." Klimack had such a good time last year she plans to ride the 43-mile route to Amanda this year. "People should not be afraid to sign up to ride. If I can do it, anyone can," she says.
Pelotonia is more than a ride; it is a community experience. Participants in the two-day fundraiser bike on behalf of friends, loved ones and others who have struggled with cancer. There is also an outpouring of support from cancer survivors who come out to cheer for riders along the route. .
The Value of a Dollar
Besides fellowships, Pelotonia funds...
Idea grants For researchers with big breakthrough ideas that require preliminary data to pursue large government grants
Programmatic grants For groups of investigators to work collaboratively in pursuing large grants
Bridge funding For investigators who are between projects
‘Superstar’ recruiting To attract major cancer researchers to Ohio State
Spotlight on Fundraising
Some people hesitate to ride in Pelotonia because asking for donations may seem daunting. But here are some ideas for painless (and even fun) fundraising:
Throw a party. Inviting people to your home gives you the opportunity to explain Pelotonia and its goals. (Be creative with the food and drinks!)
Create a Rider Profile page. Your family and friends can learn about Pelotonia and why it's important to you, and then click to donate.
Ask your employer. Many large companies match employee donations, so check with your HR department.
Leverage social media. Facebook. Email. Twitter. All these sites are great ways to get the word out that you're riding. You also can provide a link to your Rider Profile.
Find out more tips!
Ask Your Advocate
Q. How can I tell if my bike fits me correctly?
A. A well-fitting bike should be comfortable. When riding, you should not have pain, numbness or tingling in your hands, neck, shoulders, back, hips, groin, knees or feet. If you do, then a bike fit is probably in order. OSU Sports Medicine provides bike fittings on a fee-for-service basis or through a referral for physical therapy
A Personal Side of Pelotonia
When Nancy Kaufmann's 22 year-old daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2005, it was like a "kick in the gut." But like many other people in similar circumstances, Kaufmann and her family refused to feel helpless in the face of cancer. One way they fought back was by creating MMORE (Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education), a nonprofit organization that raises money locally for the benefit of multiple myeloma research. As a result of holding its annual gala, fundraising runs and other grassroots events, MMORE has donated more than $350,000 to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
Kaufmann of Upper Arlington, her family and MMORE are committed supporters of Pelotonia. "When I first heard about Pelotonia, I loved the idea of the whole community coming together to fight cancer, and I knew I needed to be a part of this," she recalls. "When I told my husband, he reminded me that we didn't own bikes anymore, and we hadn't ridden in years. So we went out, bought bikes and started training."
Although Kaufmann and her husband did some training, her longest training ride was only 32 miles. However, Kaufmann completed the 43-mile section without a problem. "On our first ride in 2009, it was a gorgeous, sunny day," says Kaufmann. "I just loved the sense of camaraderie with our teammates and the thousands of other riders." In 2009, MMORE recruited 32 team members, and in 2010, they recruited 44 team members. About 60 percent of the 2010 participants were first-time long-distance riders.
Kaufmann's daughter, Sarah, rode the 102-mile section of the first Pelotonia ride, partially in celebration of the anniversary of her successful bone marrow transplant. "Every year Sarah does something to really challenge herself around that anniversary," explains Kaufmann. "Currently Sarah is still in remission, and in 2010, Sarah celebrated her transplant anniversary by running a half-marathon."
"For those of us who aren't scientists, we can be so effective in helping in this fight through Pelotonia," says Kaufmann, who rode in 2010 and plans to participate in this year's ride. "One of the best parts about Pelotonia is being able to follow the money here locally, and see where all of our efforts have gone. We know that the money is being applied right away, right in our community. I'm filled with hope when I ride in Pelotonia. There is a true power in the energy of all those people riding to end cancer."