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Help Columbus Find a Cure for Cancer

Sara Gaul Sara Gaul Help Columbus Find a Cure for CancerPhoto via Pelotonia.
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Pelotonia 2015

One of the most amazing events in Columbus every summer is Pelotonia. For those of you who are not familiar, Pelotonia is a grassroots bike ride with the objective to fund lifesaving cancer research. 100% of the dollars raised by riders, virtual riders and volunteers are donated to fund research at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, better known to most as “The James”. In the first six rides, Pelotonia raised more than $82 million for cancer research. This money has developed lifesaving tests and treatments for multiple forms of cancer and continues to strive for One Goal, a cancer free world.

doug-ulman“This is my first year riding in Pelotonia and I’m so excited to join the movement,” says President and CEO of Pelotonia, Doug Ulman. “As a cancer survivor, I’m humbled to see the community coming together to eradicate this disease and I can’t wait to participate side by side with so many dedicated supporters.” Ulman recently relocated to Columbus from Austin where he was CEO of Livestrong for six years.

This year, Pelotonia weekend is August 7-9. If you are in town and physically able, I encourage you to consider participating at any level. There are six different route options ranging from 25-180 miles and dozens of opportunities to volunteer.

Two things that commonly overwhelm people when signing up to participate is the commitment to fundraise as well as the physical challenge of the ride. I’ve enlisted two professionals in our community to help potential participants overcome these hesitations. David Chambliss is the Director of Development at the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. In this role, David works with alumni and friends of Ohio State to inspire philanthropy and secure vital resources for Fisher. Dr. Stephen Graef is a Sport Psychologist at The Ohio State University. The former Buckeye football player now spends his days dealing with the mental aspect of sports in addition to the clinical aspect of Psychology. He works with student athletes to help them live the lives they want to live, perform at the level they want to perform and accomplish the goals they set for themselves.

Quite possibly the most overwhelming part of Pelotonia for some is the fundraising associated with the ride. It can be scary to commit to that level of donation and it can also be intimidating to have to reach out to family and friends asking for money.

“When people tell me they could never do what I do because they hate asking people for money, I remind them that I’m not asking for money, I’m asking for impact. The ask with Pelotonia is to help find a cure for cancer by making a Philanthropic gift to The James,” explains Chambliss.

Chambliss says the two methods of communication he uses for this type of fundraising are email and Facebook. He recommends sending an email once a month, as it allows the sender to include photos and link to their Pelotonia page where most donations are made. He also recommends using interesting subject lines like “Columbus finds a Cure for Cancer!” to grab the recipient’s attention over something more generic like “Support my Pelotonia Ride”. Chambliss suggests sending emails on the 1st, 15th or 30th of every month as these are typically days when people get paid and are more likely to be comfortable making a contribution. Sunday nights are also a good time because most people read their emails on Monday mornings and are more likely to make a donation before their hectic week begins. In addition to email, Facebook is a good tool to use as a reminder and to reach a broader audience every couple of weeks. It is also a good place to publicly recognize those who have donated.

Pelotonia does an amazing job providing riders all the resources needed to fund raise including a user-friendly website, fundraising tips and numerous events throughout the year for riders to invite friends and family to help raise money.

“It’s important to keep in mind that Pelotonia isn’t about you or me, it’s about us, and the millions of people who will be impacted by cancer in the next decade. If someone can spend $30 a month on Starbucks, they will certainly be willing to spend that or more to find a cure for cancer,” assures Chambliss.

In addition to the commitment to raise money, a long distance bike ride may seem impossible for those of us who may be out of shape or lack the time to train. Some of us may have not ridden a bike in years and the thought of riding on streets among thousands of others is very intimidating.

“Its ok to be nervous, “says Dr. Graef. “However, keep in mind that there are more cyclists than accidents and that the teams supporting this ride are experts in what they do.”

The actual ride itself can be a challenge at any distance. Riders can take a lesson from athletes by understanding their motivational driver or “the why”, which can be driven by each rider’s own personal story and the universal desire for a cancer free world. Dr. Graef helps athletes to perform in high pressure situations by teaching them to only focus on the things that help their performance, or what Graef describes as “keeping the good stuff in frame”. Don’t focus on the pain, other riders or the traffic. Focus on the sunshine, the community spirit and the hundreds of grateful people lining the streets to cheer. Graef also suggests giving yourself a trigger word, like “pedal”, to repeat in your head in the instance that you do find your mind wandering to the negative during the ride. Whether it is an intense training schedule or the ride itself, Dr. Graef assures us that the human body is resilient and can adapt.

“Keep your goal in mind and attack it one bite at a time,” he says. “Know that you don’t have to be the best to complete your goals, but if you think you can’t do something, you’re right.”

Those of us who are veteran riders know that Pelotonia does everything possible to make the fundraising and the ride achievable. For me, riding past someone with a sign that says “Thank you for saving my life” is enough of a reason to get over my fears and change the world.

Ulman is equally as inspired and encouraged by the efforts of Pelotonia.

“I believe Columbus has the opportunity to lead the charge in cancer research,” he says. “I have never seen a community coalesce like this one has and the future potential of our work is unlimited given the collective support of the entire city and beyond. Pelotonia is making groundbreaking research possible.”

For questions regarding Pelotonia or to register to ride, virtual ride or volunteer, please visit www.pelotonia.org.


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