Pelotonia Bicyclist Event Funds Cancer Research


This year’s annual Pelotonia fundraising event ran between Aug. 7-9, 2015. The ride brought nearly 8,000 bicyclists to ride for a cause. Beginning in either Columbus or Pickerington, Ohio, the riders have the option of five different routes to travel. The weekend started on Friday with a kick-off ceremony. On Saturday, the journey began and culminated that same day for most routes.

Pelotonia was founded in 2008. The objective is to raise funds for cancer research. Due to their sponsors’ generosity, 100 percent of the rider-raised donations are used for essential life-saving research.  This also includes all funds raised by virtual riders and volunteers.

As of Aug. 10, 2015, the total money raised was $13,038,353. All of this money will go to the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).The money is used for research, the Pelotonia Fellowship Program, and Idea Grants as well as to upgrade necessary equipment needed for research and development of cures.

According to the Pelotonia website, the fellowship program “trains promising, and accomplished undergraduate, graduate, medical postdoctoral students (sic).” The fellowship program recruits people who have the ability to become “independent cancer researchers.”

Furthermore, the site explains Idea Grants as grants which enable teams of researchers to explore “novel treatments that target molecules and markers of each person’s cancers.” Without the donations from Pelotonia riders and the other donors, the research would not be proceeding at its current rate.

The ride was the brainchild of Mike Caligiuri, the  OSUCCC-James director. In response to declining federal cancer-research funding, he brought the idea to the president of The James Cancer Hospital Foundation Board (JFB). The idea became the Pelotonia, an event for bicyclists to raise funds for cancer research. Caligiuri rode 163 miles in 2008.

The initial sponsor funding was a $12.5 million, five-year commitment. The fundraising goal was set at $39 million during the same time frame. However, in five years, Pelotonia raised over $61 million.


In 2015, the ride routes (all mileage is approximate) are listed as:

  1. Columbus to Pickerington: This is a 25-mile route, and the rider’s donation commitment is $1,200.
  2. Columbus to New Albany: The ride is 50 miles, and the donation commitment is $1,250.
  3. Pickerington to Gambier: The donation for this 75-mile ride is $1,800.
  4. Columbus to Gambier: This is a 75-mile ride with a donation commitment of $1,800.
  5. Pickerington to Gambier and back: For this two-day, 155-mile ride, the riders commit to a $2,200 donation.
  6. Columbus to Gambier and back: The route is 180 miles, takes two days to complete, and the donation commitment is $2,800.

This year, there were 277 teams, called Pelotons. The make-up of each team is five or more riders, virtual riders and volunteers, in any combination. There are advantages to being part of a Peloton; the riders have a profile page on the official website. The next advantage is that the group can create a general fund; this enables all riders to meet their donation commitment. Alternately, a team can choose the option of sharing excess funds with another team member so that the member’s commitment can be fulfilled.

Rider Profile: A first-time rider, Dan Eisner is riding the Columbus to Gambier route. He is riding with Team Alliance Data and has raised $1,942.00. Eisner says he is very excited to be riding this year. He and his sister lost their dad to cancer a few years ago. Eisner adds, “We miss our dad each and every day, and I know he will be along for the ride with me.”

Rider Profile: A cancer survivor, Angela Abenaim is a member of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Peloton. She is riding the Columbus to Pickerington route and has a total of $1,264.00 in donations. In her profile, Abenaim relates her story of having a rare form of leukemia. She remembers being in the James Hospital the first night. Her husband had left to be with their children, and she was alone and hooked up to a blood transfusion machine. She felt overwhelmed. One of the nurses became her guardian angel, according to Abenaim. She was asked if she wanted to participate in a clinical trial. Even though it meant 18 months more chemotherapy, she agreed. If not for the clinical trial, she believes, she might not have been cancer-free for the last three years.

Between 2009 and 2014, the Pelotonia raised just over $82 million. In 2015, there were 7,980 bicyclists raising funds for cancer research in the Pelotonia. However, there were over 6,500 volunteers and virtual riders behind the scenes. The entire force of donors is making research a reality, and patients like Abenaim are living proof that research works.

By Cathy Milne

PELOTONIA: Rider Profile Angela Abenaim
PELOTONIA: Rider Profile Dan Eisner
The Columbus Dispatch: Pelotonia Totals Expected to Top $100 Million as 7,900 Riders Head Out This Weekend

Featured Photo Courtesy of tpsdave’s Pixabay Page –  CC0 Public Domain License
Inset Photo Courtesy of jschweikart’s Pixabay Page – CC0 Public Domain License

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