COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Pelotonia is underway, with thousands of people from 39 states and 12 countries riding for a great cause.
“I started coming out here to do this ride for her and it’s a magnificent event,” said rider Jeff Dayton.
Riders are united as they pedal to raise money for cancer research.
Nearly $200 million has been raised since the race began more than a decade ago.
“Pelotonia is really the greatest weekend of the year,” said rider Stacy Schweikhart. “It beats Christmas, it beats Thanksgiving, it’s more fun than New Year’s Eve.”
It’s a ride, not a race.
And so far it’s raised more than $13 million this year for innovative cancer reason at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“I’ve never done this before, so I’m just kind of open-minded at this point,” said rider Cierra Hughes.
Hughes and her friend Katie Boester are rookies to Pelotonia, but they’re not strangers to cancer. They work at the James Cancer Hospital and said that’s one reason they decided to ride.
“For my patients,” Boester said. “I mean, I see the battle they go through every day, and it’s truly inspiring. So, I want to make a difference for them.”
For Schweikhart and her sister Emily Wall, the ride is a little more personal.
They lost their father to cancer in 2014.
“We started our team in 2014 as my dad was in his final days at the James Cancer hospital up here at Ohio State,” Schweikhart said. “We told him we would ride in his memory and that we would keep his fight alive.”
“That year, it was a ride of gratitude and of healing and all of that, but we continue to ride and unfortunately there’s someone else,” said Wall. “Some loses an aunt, an uncle, a mom, a dad. This year, one of our riders lost his wife on July 2.”
It’s why this year, they’re doing this ride for Katie in hopes they can someday soon put an end to cancer.
Safety is the top priority for cyclists and staff at Pelotonia. More than 250 police and state troopers, 300 medical volunteers and several dozen support vehicle will work along the route to help everything go smoothly.
Last weekend, a cyclist was killed when she crossed outside of the safety zone during the Ironman in Delaware County and was hit by a truck.
Organizers urge everyone to be alert.
“Most of us are not doing anything that’s more important than the life of another person,” said Ed Miner, executive director of Bikes For All People. “And so just slowing down and being patient and taking your time — it’s really important for people and cars to remember those things.”