COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Pelotonia is less than two months away, and for the past 14 years, the event has been raising critical funds to fight cancer – a disease that impacts all of us, including our very own meteorologist Bob Nunally, who was diagnosed himself back in January.
With that, I will be “Biking for Bob” this coming summer, riding 102 miles at the Aug. 6 event. I will be sharing powerful stories about the ride’s impact along the way, all to help raise awareness in Bob’s honor, including how how the sudden loss of a father and husband, has inspired a community to ride in his memory.
“Last year I started riding for, in place of Shin, and in his memory,” says Bree Iisaka. Bree and her husband Shin had been together since she was 19 years old. She never knew life without him, until recently.
“He would have been there, and he would have been riding last year if he was still here,” Bree recalls. “So, I basically got on the bike for him.”
Bree and Shin moved to Columbus in 2011. When they arrived, Shin joined the very first Pelotonia ride that he could.
“When he found out that it was biking and it was raising direct funds to cancer research, he was like, ‘I’m in,'” emphasizes Bree.
Shin, whose uncle died from lung cancer, road in Pelotonia every year until he was killed by a drunk driver while riding with friends two years ago.
“I think it’s really important to me and it’s really important to my kids that we continue to do something that honors sort of the positive aspects of his life,” Bree adds.
It was the positive way in which he lived, that touched an entire community.
“He was everyone’s best friend,” remembers Heidi Cart. “You know, you could always count on him for a smile and some encouragement.”
I went on a training ride with Bree and Heidi to learn more about Shin, and the legacy he left in our neighborhood. Heidi’s oldest child went to school with Shin’s; she too rides for that light in her life, gone far too soon.
“Even my first ride, we did a 10-mile ride, and I came up 5th Avenue – which is a pretty steep incline – and I cried the whole way up,” Heidi reflects. “Because I didn’t stop, and I just kept thinking how proud Shin would be.”
This August I’ll ride with Team Grandview, which Heidi now captains. Together, this year the team will eclipse more than $1 million in funds raised over the years. Not just for Shin, but all those in our community impacted by cancer.
“We don’t ride very fast or very far all the time, but it’s been a great way to connect with people,” says Heidi.
For Bree, Pelotonia is a great way to help get research dollars to populations that don’t often get the funding they need.
“I think it’s probably almost impossible to find a family that hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way,” Bree says.
So, when she pedals away in eight weeks, she’ll do so with Shin on her mind, and in her heart.
“Last year, doing my first 100 miles, I’m not going to lie I thought about him a lot. And I think he was yelling at me not to stop, so I didn’t.”
I recently participated in the 2022 Ride of Silence with Bree, Heidi and others – a ride to not only honor the 73 cyclists killed between 2019 and 2021, but to also encourage safe riding for those in the cycling community.
I will be continuing to tell stories over the next eight weeks. Everyone rides for someone, and this year, for the first time, I’ll be Biking for Bob – our dear friend who continues his battle with cancer today.
Bob is certainly in our hearts and on our minds, and if you would like to help support my ride in his name, you can visit my Pelotonia rider page. No donation is too small, and every penny goes directly to life-saving cancer research.
To donate, click here.