Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, is a cancer genetic counselor at the OSUCCC – James. She is also a member of Team Buckeye and rides with the peloton SUPER Friends. In her spare time, Heather enjoys boating and slalom water skiing on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, as well as riding on her Peloton bike. This will be Heather’s 11th year riding in Pelotonia.
When did you first hear about Pelotonia?
I heard about Pelotonia the first year it started. I was working at the OSUCCC – James, and it was an important priority for all of us.
How did you get involved with Pelotonia, specifically with Team Buckeye?
Originally, I thought I was going to be a virtual rider, because I didn’t own a road bike. Then I decided I would feel more comfortable asking for donations if I was actually riding. I went for a training ride with a mountain bike and loved it. I purchased a road bike and rode the 50-mile route that first year.
How many years have you been involved? When did you start riding?
I have been a rider since the inaugural ride in 2009.
What routes have you participated in?
My sweet spot is the 50-mile route. I have also done the 75-mile and the 100-mile routes each once.
How do you train for the ride?
I spin on my own at home. I train on the road with my husband and occasionally with the Team Buckeye organized training rides.
Is there someone who you ride for?
Yes, there is a very long list of people I ride for, but most importantly I always ride for:
- My grandma, Carol Johnson, who died from primary peritoneal cancer
- A close family friend, Gary Horn, who died from bladder cancer
- Two of my friends’ mothers, Sylvia Brownlee and Anne Nesbitt, who died from leukemia and
- My cousin’s grandmother, Ruth Ruzik, who died from multiple myeloma
What does Pelotonia and their one goal to end cancer mean to you?
It means our entire community is working together to end cancer which is very powerful. I’ve said before that cancer is relentless and doesn’t take a day off. We need to be just as relentless in our efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Do you have a favorite/memorable moment from riding in Pelotonia?
After 10 years, there are so many! I have to say it is the tremendous feeling of hope and community on the day of the ride and throughout the year. It also warms my heart when I see the Pelotonia arrow on all the cars in Columbus.
What advice can you give for first-time participants?
Do not be intimidated by the ride. Most people can do the 25-mile ride without training at all, and the 50-mile ride with limited training.
Do not be intimidated by the fundraising. It’s hard to send that first email asking people to support your ride, but you will be amazed at how many friends and family are willing to donate. They are excited to know that 100% of their donation is going to cancer research and NONE to overhead. That’s rare with most fundraisers. I have found it’s very easy to meet my fundraising goal. After 10 years, I have friends emailing me to ask if I’m going to ride, because they want to donate.
Anything you’d like to add about Pelotonia that we haven’t covered?
The Pelotonia staff members are class acts and run this event like a well-oiled machine. I cannot say enough good things about them and their ability to make everyone feel important— the volunteers, donors, riders, everyone.