The weight of carrying a growing number of ribbons on her bike won’t slow Terry Bradley when she attempts to ride the new 200-mile route in the upcoming Pelotonia.
“I have a ribbon for everyone I ride for and I have too many ribbons. I keep adding more and more, and I really hate that,” said Bradley, the captain of The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences peloton (team) and a Pelotonia rider since the inaugural event in 2009.
This year, Bradley will be adding a ribbon to honor the memory of her high school friend, Cassie Cuthbert, who passed away on February 3 from breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and another ribbon in honor of a close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I don’t need more reasons to ride in Pelotonia; I don’t need to lose any more friends and family,” said Bradley, who is a Systems Manager in the Department of Physics. “I have personal knowledge of where all the money we raise goes; I know the James is the place to take your family and friends because of the personal care they’ll get and all the amazing research they do here.”
Pelotonia has raised $157 million to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Bradley and her ASC teammates are great examples of how Buckeyes from all over campus and from all 15 colleges have joined the growing Pelotonia community of riders, virtual riders, volunteers and donors that form the Team Buckeye super peloton.
And here’s the thing: Bradley, and many others, weren’t so sure, back in 2009, before the first Pelotonia, that the idea for a fundraising bike ride would actually work.
Bradley came to Ohio State in 1998 and was a Systems Specialist in the relatively new, and rapidly growing Clinical Cancer Genetics Department (now the Division of Human Genetics). “It was such a rush to work with all these amazing people,” she said. “I was a chemistry major in college (at Emory University) and I’ve always loved science and could see what they were doing for their patients; and the research, even at that point in time, was incredible.”
She moved over to the Department of Physics in 2001.
And then, in 2009, along came this idea of a fundraising bike ride. Bradley was already a cyclist and enjoyed long, challenging rides, such as Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), a two-day, 200-mile ride to Portsmouth and back.
“When I heard about Pelotonia, I thought about how cancer had touched my family and our friends. I didn’t know if this event would succeed, but I wanted it to work, so I took the leap.” There was no Team Buckeye for the first Pelotonia, and Bradley and several of her friends from clinical cancer genetics formed a team: the Polymeracers.
For so many first-time Pelotonia riders, there comes a moment – or moments – when they realize they’re not just on a bike ride.
The College of Arts and Sciences has benefitted directly from Pelotonia, as several undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students from the College have received Pelotonia Fellowships to pursue cancer-related research. For example, William Cantara, PhD, a Chemistry post-doc, received a Pelotonia Fellowship in 2013 to look at the “the underlying mechanisms by which a cancer-causing virus replicates.” Cantara remains a member of Team ASC. Dance major Marie “Mimi” Lamantia received an undergraduate Pelotonia Fellowship to help James patients suffering from chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This is a side effect from cancer treatment that causes weakness and numbness in the arms and legs, and Lamantia utilized the tango to help her “students” gain strength and balance and become more mobile.
Bradley has evolved from a doubter into one of Pelotonia’s most passionate supporters.
“Pelotonia has given me so much more than I’ve ever given to Pelotonia,” she said. “It’s so humbling when I think about this amazing community of people I’ve gotten to know and love and become connected to. We all have this job we need to do, to end cancer, and that’s what’s important.”