Pelotonia adapts its fundraising efforts amid coronavirus pandemic

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – For the first time in 12 years, thousands of cyclists will not be taking off from downtown Columbus during one of central Ohio’s largest charity events.

The COVID-19 health crisis forced Pelotonia to adapt its fundraising efforts and turn to technology.

“Our mission is so critical, and any opportunity we could find to mobilize and build community to help so many affected by cancer is paramount,” said Doug Ulman, president and CEO of Pelotonia.

Pelotonia launched a new online platform, MyPelotonia.org, for participants to fundraise with whatever method they choose. The organization lifted age restrictions and waived registration fees and minimum fundraising goals to attract more participation.

“We see a lot of families participating, doing unique things like lemonade stands on the sidewalk and making masks together,” said Karl Koon, the captain for Team Buckeye.

Team Buckeye is the official super peloton of Ohio State, made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni and their family and friends. Koon explained cancer has personally affected many of the team members and they don’t plan to slow down fundraising efforts this year.

“I have three cousins going through cancer treatments, so for me this is something that’s very personal,” he said. “I would say most of our Pelotonia community members, if not all, have that very personal connection.”

Koon has been riding in Pelotonia since it started in 2008. In the years since its inception, the event has grown to attract about 2,000 cyclists and has collectively raised more than $208 million for Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center — James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

“Literally every day there are new therapies being developed, new breakthroughs,” Ulman said.

Some of the beneficiaries of such research will join celebrities and motivational speakers Friday, August 7 from 7-8 p.m. for online kickoff “Legends LIVE.” You can tune in at Pelotonia.org/RISE and through social media channels facebook.com/pelotonia and youtube.com/ridepelotonia.

Ulman explained Pelotonia had been planning to create a way to expand remote fundraising and the pandemic expedited the launch of MyPelotonia.org. He said it will be a permanent platform moving forward.

“We imagine a world in which we are able to host our traditional three-day weekend and give people the opportunity to participate through this new platform,” he said.

This year’s fundraising deadline has also been extended to October 31.

“Philanthropic dollars today are more critical because so many other resources are being sort of re-allocated to address the pandemic,” Ulman said.

You can donate to individuals, teams or to the general fund here. 100 percent of donations go to The OSUCCC – James.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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