Pelotonia is a grassroots bike tour with one goal: to end cancer
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Riding for the kids who can’t

Riding for the kids who can’t

Like so many of us within the Pelotonia community, Jane McGinnis has been impacted by cancer. In 1999 her father-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer, making her reason for participating in Pelotonia that much more important, both personally and emotionally. She vividly remembers the first year she signed up to become a Volunteer for Pelotonia. Her palms were sweaty, and she was nervous to register, having no idea what she was getting herself into. It only took that first experience for Jane to fit right into the community, and for her to realize that she was becoming a part of something bigger than she ever imagined.

Jane remembers her first Pelotonia experience, when she watched all the people crossing the finish line. There were Riders of all backgrounds, ages, and fitness levels. One Rider in particular stuck out to Jane because he only had one leg and was tackling the challenges on the road just like everyone else. After seeing him and his determination, she realized Pelotonia was more than just a ride. It was a way to challenge yourself. To do something more. It was a community coming together to find an end to cancer.

After enjoying her first-year Volunteer experience, Jane took another leap of faith in 2011 and signed up to ride. After being encouraged by her coworkers and motivated by her own personal experience with cancer, she traded in her volunteer t-shirt for a pair of spandex and a helmet to participate in the 50-mile route.  

In 2014, Jane was touched by another story that continues to motivate her to ride. She learned about a little boy, named Hines, from her hometown who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Unfortunately, there were no hospitals nearby that offered the medical care he needed, so he and his family frequently had to travel out of state for treatment. To help his family pass the time traveling from appointment to appointment, they used Facebook to share the good and the bad days with their loved ones.

These posts inspired Jane to dedicate her ride to this boy and his family that year and established a tradition that she continues year after year. She now dedicates each of her rides to other pediatric patients whose outcomes were unfortunately different than Hines’. Each year she honors these children, or what she calls “little angels,” by placing a ribbon on the back of her jersey for each of them.

When asking Jane what prompted her to be so invested with this little boy and these “little angels,” she responds by saying, “nobody should have to deal with cancer, especially not a young child. Each of their stories have become personal motivation for me to want to do more.”

Not only do those stories motivate Jane, but she’s also motivated by the people who come out to cheer on each of the Riders.

“When I think I can’t pedal any more, there is someone standing with a sign saying thank you for saving my wife’s life or my father’s life,” she says. “It’s incredible and it pushes me to make it to the finish line.”

Jane looks back on her first Ride as really emotional, especially as she crossed the finish line, happy to have made it all that way. She recalls being overcome with awe at the number of people waiting at the finish line to welcome the Riders.

“The Ride is physically exhausting, but the adrenaline and the other Riders provide such a wonderful, supportive environment. You never ride alone. Other Riders will pull up alongside you and keep you motivated.”

Jane and her husband Michael always make sure to cross the finish line together. To them, it’s a celebration that they’ve made it another year, a way to remember those “little angels,” and an opportunity to honor Hines. “We look forward to this day all year long and will continue to ride for the kids who can’t.”

Jane looks back on that original day she signed up to become a Volunteer and is grateful for her coworkers who encouraged her to do so. The memories she’s made over the past ten years would not have been possible without her stepping out of her comfort zone and participating in an event that is now such a big part of her life.

Why do you participate in Pelotonia? Share your story with us today.

This blog was written by Bella Brown. Bella is a Junior at Miami University studying Marketing and Interactive Media Studies/ She interned with Pelotonia during the summer of 2019 serving as the Merchandise Operations Intern. She is also the VP of Marketing for her professional business fraternity, Phi Chi Theta.

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