Students and staff participate in the annual Pelotonia ride with efforts to end cancer.

By Callia Peterson, ’22

During the first weekend of August, almost 7,500 riders approached the starting point of their chosen bike routes with the names of family and friends affected by cancer in the center of their minds. This ride was for them. The 11th annual Pelotonia ride across Columbus was about to begin. In partnership with The James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University and thousands of riders, virtual riders, volunteers and supporters, Pelotonia raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for cancer research. Since the inaugural ride in 2009, almost $200 million dollars have been raised for Pelotonia’s One Goal: discovering cures for various forms of cancer to combat the infamous debilitating disease once and for all.

Junior Kate Mason was a first-time rider this year.

“It’s such an amazing way to bring people together [who] are all for one goal,” Mason said. “Whether riding or donating or volunteering, every little thing matters, and it’s all going towards this great cause.”


For 2019 UA alum Jack Amling, Pelotonia was always a big part of his life. “It was just part of what we did as a family,” Amling said. “Even when I was 8 and did not understand what cancer was, what I knew was [that] my mom, my dad and my sisters were changing something.”

Math teacher Jeff Silliman got involved with Pelotonia because of his grandfather’s experience with pancreatic cancer. After being told he only had 6-months left to live, Silliman’s grandfather was treated at The James and was able to spend four more years with Silliman’s family.

“His cancer did come back as it usually does, but I was just so grateful for the care that we got there and the fact that they were able to give our family four extra years with him,” Silliman said. “Everybody just felt compelled to do something, so I started riding in 2014.”


Every year riders and virtual riders fundraise and collect donations to reach a fundraising goal. The goals vary depending upon the number of miles a rider wants to ride. Or, for virtual riders, they can set their own goal amount without participating in the ride. When picking their routes, riders consider how much they want to train for their chosen distance and how likely it is for them to achieve their goal.

“Attached to [each] route is a different fundraising goal,” Amling said. “So if you commit to doing 200 miles, you have $3000 to raise.” Mason picked the ideal route for a first time rider.

“The 25-mile was perfect for me this year because I had never done [Pelotonia] before,” Mason said. “I loved it, and I had so much fun.”

Riders begin raising money by reaching out to family and friends. “The first basic thing that everyone does is send out an email,” Amling said. “You have so many people in your life. Even if they aren’t riding, they want to be a part of the change, and they want to be a part of your mission.”

In addition to collecting donations from loved ones, Pelotons (groups of riders and virtual riders) and individual riders can organize fundraisers.

Silliman held such a fundraiser at UAHS for the past five years. “It seems like a really odd thing, but I grew a beard for about two months, and during the last three or four weeks of that I had a contest between my classes,” Silliman said. “Whichever class could raise the most money per person in the class would get to decide how I would shave my beard.”

Silliman conducted this fundraiser every year that he rode, no matter how embarrassing it might be. “I would have to wear it to school for one day and everyone would of course snap their pictures,” Silliman said. “It would be a really embarrassing day for me, but it was all worth it because the students were really generous, and I was able to help out a really good cause through that effort.”

Beyond fundraisers and emails, there are even more ways to collect money for rider’s accounts. Some big corporations use an app called PULLL that encourages riders to train by donating to their accounts. For any kind of activity, whether it’s running, riding or swimming, riders can make a certain amount of money per minute or mile doing that activity. “For some people, it is just a great
motivator to get ready for the ride,”

Amling said. “If [riders] put in this effort, it will lower how much [they] have to fundraise and it will get [them] ready for the ride.” Riders and virtual riders have until Oct. 4 to complete their fundraising for the 2019 ride, so additional fundraising, emails, social media posts, and events will continue into the fall.


All of the funds raised by riders and virtual riders go to cancer research. Pelotonia is working with OSU to put Columbus at the forefront of cancer research. In the past, Pelotonia has provided grants to cancer researchers at OSU to provide access to the equipment and other resources faculty need to conduct their research. Pelotonia has pledged $102,265,000 to create The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Pelotonia Institute for Immuno- Oncology. This institute is projected to achieve breakthroughs in research of immunotherapy.

The amount itself holds hidden meaning in Pelotonia’s One Goal.

“I think donating $102,265,000 and immortalizing the number 2,265—the original number of riders in the inaugural year—really solidifies the fact that all of your money is going to cancer research,” Amling said. “All of your money is going toward One Goal.”

At the opening ceremony for the 11th Pelotonia ride, Sanjay Gupta spoke to the Pelotonia community, emphasizing the importance of their involvement.

“We get to be a part of something historic here,” Gupta said in his speech. “This organization that gets to advance knowledge, that gets to change how medicine is practiced and that gets to save lives.”