One cause: Cure cancer
It takes a village to fight cancer.
In the case of Pelotonia, this includes riders, donors, sponsors, spectators and volunteers, all on hand at the 25-mile mark in Pickerington Aug. 11.
This was the first year Pickerington was used as a stop, the result of changes in Ohio University’s academic term. With the recent switch from quarter to semester classes, OU was unable to accommodate the riders who would stay in the dorms and return the following day to ride. Due to the change, riders were housed at Kenyon College, which factored into the stopover in Pickerington.
“When the planners started laying out the course, Pickerington North High School fell right in the 25-mile range from the start in Columbus Commons, and we at Pickerington North were happy to come on board and help out this worthy cause,” Lead Volunteer Brian Seymour said.
According to Seymour, who is also a teacher at PHSN, the community reaction was immense.
“We had volunteers from all over Pickerington, as well as principals and staff from all of the buildings,” he said. “Even our new superintendent, Robb Walker, came out to help.”
Along with the PHSN students and staff, volunteers also included Girl Scouts and employees from Limited Brands and Huntington Bank. With more than 150 volunteers onsite, the Pickerington stop was bustling with activity. Handling everything from setting up food and water to transporting bicycles, the volunteers were quick to cheer on and congratulate cyclists.
PHSN seniors Michael Ciccone and Daniel Riordan were among the student volunteers helping out that day. Though they had various reasons for donating their time, one common theme remained: both of their families have been impacted by cancer.
“It’s hugely affected my life,” Riordan said of his survivor grandmother. “So I’m glad to be here to help out.”
Ciccone, whose grandfather died from kidney cancer, credited a friend for getting him involved.
“I have a friend who is riding and he got me interested,” he said. “I can see myself doing this in the future when I get a bike. It looks like a lot of fun. It’s a good activity and cause.”
Devin Martin, a Columbus resident and rider with the Cardinal Health team, appreciated the support the volunteers provided.
“They've been really friendly. As soon as I got here I was welcomed,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the community to come together for such a great cause.”
It was another successful year for Pelotonia, with more than $10 million dollars raised for cancer research. Cincinnati resident Laura Ross was in Pickerington to support her husband Michael, who was riding in the event for his third year.
The community backing impressed Ross.
“I’m just amazed at how many volunteers there are,” she said. “I believe 100 percent of the money donated goes to cancer research, so everything is either sponsored or volunteered. I find that phenomenal.”
For the day to run smoothly, volunteers relied on the expertise of the organizers and the experience of seasoned volunteers.
“I’ve been here since the start at Groveport four years ago,” volunteer Bobbi Wellman, of Grandview, said. “I have a great grandmother who was a survivor and a friend who has parents with some issues. It’s a great event to get everybody inspired and get involved with things you feel passionately about.”
Though the school was in the midst of preparing for a new school year and fall activities, adjustments were made to accommodate the cause.
“The PHSN athletic department made the commitment that all athletic events would be delayed until after the Pelotonia events were over,” Seymour said. “This gave Pelotonia and the riders access to the entire grounds.”
The sprawling grounds served as the finish line for the 25-mile route and also as a rest stop for cyclists.
“The school is the perfect location for a stop. Everyone is happy to be here,” said Pam Kunselman, Pickerington resident and third-year volunteer. “Pelotonia has a huge community impact. We have 6,000 riders involved, volunteers and you have schools allowing you to use their lots. It’s a great thing.”
As for the future, Seymour welcomes the thought of another year of involvement.
“As of right now, I am not sure of the route for 2013, but I would love to have Pelotonia back for years to come,” he said. “I was excited that the community was ready to stand behind Pelotonia, but I was not shocked as the Pickerington community has always been willing to back a worthwhile cause.”