Rider Profile: Q&A With Kathy Koontz
Kathy Koontz is one of Pelotonia’s fearless fundraisers and Living Proof Riders who is constantly giving it her all in her fundraising efforts. Kathy joined the Pelotonia community in 2014 and has nearly $20,000 (and counting!) since. Pelotonia’16 will mark her third year riding 180 miles and her second year as a High Roller. Kathy is a 4th generation native Floridian who moved to Columbus in 2006 and says she doesn’t mind the snow but misses her Florida sunshine when the skies are gray during the winter months (we couldn’t agree more). While one of her daughters, Amy, still resides in Florida, Kathy now lives in Dublin with her husband, Alan, and other daughter, Claire. Read on to learn more about Kathy and her Pelotonia journey.
Why did you decide to be a part of the Pelotonia community?
I started cycling in 2011 at my husband’s urging, since that was his exercise of choice, and I was looking for something to get me out of the gym. However, I didn’t participate in Pelotonia until 2014. I had a stem cell transplant at The James in April 2013 to treat AL Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder that I was diagnosed with in February 2013. I wanted to thank the team there for saving my life and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than riding 180 miles in Pelotonia as soon as I could.
What was your first experience with Pelotonia like?
Of course, riding through Granville with the streets lined with hundreds of people is always emotional and the many folks along the way who say thank you give you that boost to keep riding hard. But for me, just being in the midst of the riders, volunteers and supporters along the way reminds me of all the people working to bring hope to cancer patients….like me! Those images really help me overcome my fear of relapse.
How do you fundraise?
I host a fundraising spin class with Shelley Meyer in April at the health club where I belong. She’s a certified spin instructor and leads a really great class. I ask for a $40 donation but many people give more and it always sells out. I also send out multiple emails that I post on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn over the course of the year. I’ll do one when I sign up, one when I start training, one or two during the summer (depending on how my fund raising is going), one right after the ride reflecting on the experience, and one after the check presentation. My messages follow the same basic pattern: cancer impacts everyone, here’s a Pelotonia-funded advancement that’s brought hope to this group, I’m riding so we can end cancer, make a gift and join me on the winning team. I might sprinkle in some anecdotes about how many miles I’ve ridden or how much money Pelotonia has raised.
Have you ever received a donation you weren’t expecting? Or have you ever raised more than you were expecting? Please explain.
I’ve been surprised by so many donations. Many people give so much more generously than I thought they would. Often, it’s because they or a loved one had been affected by cancer and I had no idea. The good thing about Pelotonia and The James is that it doesn’t just benefit Columbus or Ohio. We’re funding research that is benefiting the whole world. I’ve gotten donations from 18 states including Hawaii and four countries including Australia and Scotland.
Do you have a favorite Pelotonia story?
I was riding alone during a big training ride in 2014. I saw a group going about the pace I wanted to go and asked if I could join them. A few of those folks have become some of my best friends. I have so many friendships that have started through Pelotonia.
What’s your favorite part of Pelotonia overall?
Knowing I’m part of the team that is bringing hope to cancer patients. I know how scary it is to get the diagnosis and the feeling of relief knowing there’s an effective treatment available.