Team Buckeye Rider Finds New Meaning for Pelotonia Ride
This year, Anna Maria Bittoni will ride in Pelotonia for the second time, completing the 100-mile journey from Columbus to Gambier to support cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
As a member of Team Buckeye, Ohio State’s superpeloton (riding group), Bittoni was given an opportunity to participate in the “I Ride For You” program, which matches Team Buckeye student riders with patients of the OSUCCC – James. Through this program, students can meet their patient match and learn firsthand how cancer has affected his or her life while gaining a better understanding of the importance of cancer research.
For Pelotonia 14, Bittoni was matched with Nancy Wasen, a survivor of stage 4 head and neck cancer. “Our relationship began a couple months ago when Nancy called me and left a rather teary voicemail telling how excited she was to be matched up with a Pelotonia rider,” Bittoni says.
The importance of cancer research became apparent to Bittoni and Wasen when Wasen was accepted into a clinical trial involving black raspberries at the OSUCCC – James, the same trial Bittoni had been involved in as a research assistant.
“Nancy made it her goal to raise at least $1,000 for my ride to help support cancer research,” Bittoni said. “She immediately sent requests to her friends, and the donations started coming in!”
Bittoni and Wasen became Facebook friends and exchanged phone numbers so they could keep in touch. In early July, they met in Ashland, Ohio, where Wasen resides.
“Nancy shared with me her amazing journey through cancer treatment and survivorship,” Bittoni says. “We both feel so excited and fortunate to have been matched up together.”
Wasen and her friends plan to meet Bittoni at the 100-mile finish line in Gambier to celebrate as she crosses it.
“This by far has been the most meaningful relationship that I have had from participating in the ‘I Ride For You’ program,” Bittoni says. “Nancy has added new meaning to why I ride Pelotonia.”