I Ride for You: Building Bonds Between Riders and Legacies
Since its inception five years ago, Pelotonia has helped form lasting bonds among riders as well as the patients, survivors and families who cheer them on.
Now, through a new program called “I Ride for You,” Team Buckeye promises to forge meaningful relationships between Ohio State students and cancer survivors—or families who have lost loved ones to the disease—as the students ride to honor and memorialize their legacies.
Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, initiated the program through a letter sent to patients and families that offered to match them with “a student who will ride for you in Pelotonia 13 and raise funds for cancer research in your name.”
While there is no financial obligation for patients and families to participate, they are asked to encourage their families and friends to contribute toward their student’s ride. They are also encouraged to share their cancer journey with the student they are matched with.
Tanya Knauss, who lost her 33-year-old husband Eric to brain cancer this past March, was one of the first of more than 250 to respond to Dr. Caligiuri’s letter. She was quickly matched with Devin Carothers, a graduate student in the Knowlton School of Architecture’s city and regional planning program, who will ride in Eric’s memory.
At first, Knauss and Carothers emailed back and forth, then met for lunch so that Knauss could share more about Eric—an athlete, avid sports fan, loving husband and loyal friend. “That was very meaningful,” says Knauss. “I think when you can put a person’s face to another person’s experience, that makes it more real, and they know exactly why they’re participating and the seriousness of it.”
Carothers is awed and humbled by the Knausses’ story, and during training for his ride, Eric is never far from his mind. “If Eric could fight for so long, I can fight through 100 miles in Pelotonia,” he says. Carothers and Knauss have bonded over a hot dog-eating fundraiser for Carothers’ ride—something Eric, with his fondness for competitive eating, would have certainly endorsed.
“So many young people are in the middle of amazing things in life—going to school, graduating, falling in love, getting married. In our case, cancer changed our lives at a very young age,” says Knauss. “This program gives students perspective on life, showing them that you truly do only live once, but what matters is what you leave behind.”
As the superpeloton for The Ohio State University, Team Buckeye is made up of University faculty, staff, students and alumni, along with their friends and families. The superpeloton is made up of 69 pelotons and more than 1,050 members. Team Buckeye 2013 is being led by Captain Shelley Meyer and Co-Captain Craig Krenzel.