Pelotonia sure knows how to throw a party … and build up the suspense.
“We have a few things to get to before we reveal the total,” Pelotonia CEO and President Doug Ulman said with a bit of a wink at the Check Celebration November 9th at Express Live!
At least I think Doug winked. I was in the upper deck of the venue and my eyesight isn’t what it once was. Maybe Doug was blinking back a few tears of joy.
$24,104,423. That’s how much we raised this year, bringing the eight-year total up to $130,159,438.
Through the magic of social media, and the old-fashioned media (who were at the bash), you already knew the totals. But here are a few things you may not know about how we raised so many millions for cancer research at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
And how some of it will be spent.
“Pelotonia is one of those causes that, when you do it once, you do it for life,” said Kristyn Hartman, anchor at WBNS-TV, Pelotonia Rider, breast cancer survivor and the evening’s MC. And, by “life,” Kristyn meant all our rides in the years to come as well as “this person’s life and that life and this life … the bike ride you just did will impact patients the world over.”
The night’s other big announcement is a perfect example of how Pelotonia-funded research is impacting patients. The recipient of the second Pelotonia Statewide Cancer Initiative is a study called “Beating Lung Cancer – in Ohio (BLC-IO) led by Peter Shields, MD, David Carbone, MD, PhD, and Mary Ellen Wewers, PhD.
Peter was at the Check Celebration to, well, celebrate, and fill everyone in. But first, he told everyone he’s a Pelotonia Rider, High Roller and the money we raise inspires him and his lab, and everyone else at OSUCCC – James, to keep doing what they’re doing.
“Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer,” Peter said.
Over the next few years, more than 2,000 Ohio Stage 4 lung cancer patients at 50 Ohio hospitals will receive – free, thanks to $3 million in Pelotonia funding – state-of-the-art genetic testing of their lung cancer.
“About 50 to 60 percent of these patients could have a genetic mutation (that caused their lung cancer) that can be treated by a currently approved drug or they can be enrolled in a clinical trial,” Peter said, adding his team will recommend the best course of treatment for all these lung cancer patients.
This will add two or three years to their life expectancies and “by then there will be new drugs and clinical trials that could extend their lives even more … the goal is to make this a chronic disease,” Peter said.
The second part of this study will be a smoking cessation program led by the experts at OSUCCC – James. About 30 percent of the lung cancer patients continue to smoke after they are diagnosed, Peter said, “which shows you just how addictive smoking is.”
There’s a lot more to BLC-IO. I’m going to sit down with Peter soon and will fill you in on this life-saving program that “would have taken 10 years to get this going without Pelotonia funding,” according to Peter.
Mike Caligiuri – the Director of the OSUCCC and CEO of the James – was at the Check Celebration (of course) and filled us in and filled us full of optimism and determination.
“Someone came up to me earlier and said I have a friend with lymphoma and needs help,” Mike told the big crowd. “I said, ‘We can help,’” Mike said. He then talked about how Pelotonia has helped OSUCCC – James recruit so many of the top cancer doctors and scientists, fund their cutting-edge research and create the next generation of cancer researchers through the Pelotonia Fellowship program.
A few Pelotonia awards were presented at the Check Celebration, highlighting some of the amazing Pelotons and Pelotonia people:
Safety Award: Team Nationwide received the highest designation, Green, and its super-safe Riders will get to lead the 2017 start of Pelotonia.
Hungry Heroes: Simonton Windows Peloton received this award for their all-in participation in the Pelotonia fundraising initiative with Panera Bread.
New Kids on the Bike: The Germain Peloton was honored as the top first-year Peloton. Out of all of the new Pelotons, this group was a leader in both Rider count and fundraising, with a total of 46 Riders who raised $128,000.
Fearless Fundraiser: Long-time Rider Mike Gardner raised $66,000.
Courage Award: The Purple Tutu Society, who rode in honor/memory of Dan Weisenbach.
*All photos were captured by Megan Leigh Barnard
Steve Wartenberg is a journalist, cyclist and longtime Pelotonia Rider. Steve is one of just a handful who have pedalled every mile of every Pelotonia. This year he is going above and beyond his fundraising efforts as a High Roller! firstname.lastname@example.org.