In 2007, Tom Lennox, co-founder of Columbus' Pelotonia, had to have one of the most difficult conversations a parent could ever have with his children.
He sat them down, along with his wife, Jane, and told them he had cancer. Struggling with his emotions, he comforted the children -- ages 8, 10, and 12 at the time -- and told them they would fight it together. And they did.
A cancer survivor today, Lennox is the co-founder of the grassroots three-day bike tour with "One Goal: End Cancer." His story has served as an inspiration for people of all ages, both those stricken with cancer and those who have never faced the disease.
Adam Soll, Bexley High School's senior class president, is one of those moved by Lennox' story. In fact, he was the one who suggested that Lennox come speak to his fellow seniors at commencement this year, knowing they, too, would find encouragement in his words.
"I found him very inspiring," said Soll, who promoted the idea to Meg Farrar, the school's student council president, and Mike Nolan, high school librarian and the senior class adviser.
"I expect him to convey a very motivating and inspiring message of overcoming setbacks and roadblocks found in life," Soll said. "In just a few short years, Tom turned the idea of a bike race to benefit cancer research into a cultural phenomenon which has raised millions."
Soll has shared in the phenomenon, as he has ridden the race three times, always opting for the 50-mile trek.
He knows what it is like to have those fighting the disease and those who have survived it standing along the roadside with signs, thanking him for his efforts.
He knows what it is like to cross the finish line with the knowledge he has done his part to help fight cancer.
Lennox will serve as the keynote speaker when Soll crosses the stage this weekend to accept his diploma.
In keeping with tradition, Bexley High School's choral students and concert band will perform special selections at this year's graduation ceremony. The school vocal ensemble and choir seniors will perform In My Life, arranged by Emerson and later recorded by the Beatles. The graduating seniors, faculty and dignitaries will process in to Pomp and Circumstance, performed by members of the high school band.
Each graduating senior has selected a faculty member who will present his or her diploma at commencement. Soll chose Mike Featherstone, who went beyond just teaching social studies to Soll to serve as a mentor as well. His guidance had a great impact on Soll, going beyond classroom lessons and into life lessons.
"It makes for a very emotional ceremony," Soll said.
Graduation is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the high school's stadium.
The ceremony moves indoors to the gymnasium in case of rain.
The ceremony was moved to Memorial Day weekend this year, earlier than in the recent past, as the result of the district's adjustment to a newly revised school calendar for 2012-2013.