Team Bexley Represents a Community Dedicated to Ending Cancer

Team Bexley

As the many members of Team Bexley walked into the conference room, the rather-large number displayed on the wall – “$1,722,282 … and counting” – was there for everyone to see, and to be inspired by.

This is how much Team Bexley has raised as Pelotonia participants to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

“It’s amazing,” said long-time member and 8-time Pelotonia rider Lee Hess, as the team gathered for a talk and tour of The James. “Team Bexley has been one of the most energized team since day one of Pelotonia.”

Team Bexley is indeed one of Pelotonia’s most energized and organized pelotons (teams). They hold an annual kickoff party, hold a series of group training rides, organize several fundraisers and ride together in the town’s annual July 4 parade. And most years, the team gets a tour of The James and hears from a top researcher.

“What you do is so important and fuels the basic research that needs to get done,” said Steve Devine, MD, Professor, College of Medicine and director of the OSUCCC – James Blood and Marrow Transplant program. Dr. Devine is an expert on leukemia, other blood cancers and graft vs. host disease.

Dr. Devine discussed some of the research advances being made at the OSUCCC – James, and the impact Pelotonia funding has had on advancing this state-of-the art research. “We’re using a patient’s own immune system to better fight their cancer,” he explained, adding that a new direction in research “allows us to extract cells from the body’s immune system and re-engineer them with genes that are now better able to fight cancer.” This is called: chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) T-cell research.

It’s important for members of the Pelotonia community to visit The James and meet researchers such as Dr. Devine, said Doug Ulman, President and CEO of Pelotonia. He also spoke at the recent Team Bexley event at The James and thanked the members for being part of the growing Pelotonia community.

“We’ve seen that when members of the Pelotonia community come here and see where the work is being done, it’s a very powerful experience,” Ulman said. “If you can feel it, touch it, see it, it becomes real.”

Doug Davis knows all about how real and important cancer research can be. “My emotions are very positive every time I come to The James,” said the long-time Team Bexley rider. “There’s such a huge effort being made to get the answers and that’s what motivates me to be here and raise money riding in Pelotonia.”

After the talks, the members of Team Bexley split up into several small groups and toured The James. They had the opportunity to see radiation oncology on the second floor, the surgical unit on the fourth floor and then the 21st floor, where there are rooms for head and neck cancer patients.

“Radiation oncology is usually in the basement, with no windows, no natural light,” explained Kara Wagner, senior director of development and patient engagement at The James. At The James it is above ground and filled with natural light from a wall of windows. “This provides our patients a much better environment.”

Alison Malavite, a radiation therapist, explained how radiation works. “Everything about radiation is precision,” she began, adding that patients “can’t see it, or feel it, but they do hear a little buzzing.” Music is pumped in and the lights change color to help make what can be a stressful experience a little bit better.

Team Bexley has 86 members (70 riders, 11 virtual riders and five volunteers).

“What makes us unique is we’re a small town,” Hess said of the Bexley community. “And we tend to know one another, our kids went to school together, and when something like Pelotonia comes along, we’ll put a real community effort behind supporting it.”