A second-grade class at Gahanna's Chapelfield Elementary School and an 83-year-old cyclist have inspired each other through their support of Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that generates money for cancer research at Ohio State University's the James.
Lee Schneider, a four-year Pelotonia cyclist, recently visited the classroom of his grand niece, Lauren Scott, to discuss his involvement with the bicycle tour.
After his visit, the group of 7- and 8-year-olds took it upon themselves to raise money for the cause.
The class raised $138 by selling crafts, baked goods and items from home they no longer wanted for $1 each during a class sale, Scott said.
"Last Saturday (Sept. 28), I got the mail and opened it," Schneider said. "It was from my wife's grand niece's class. They raised $138. This is the one donation that means more than any I got. I got over 50 donors. I exceeded $4,000 average now for four years in a row.
"I'm proud I can do this -- period," he said. "It's a passion with me. This is an inspiration to me that the young people are taking an interest."
The 24-student class learned Schneider of Worthington has been the oldest bicyclist to ride the 180-mile course, and he rides because his wife, Martha Marie, had breast cancer in 1988.
"I'm riding because she's a cancer survivor and the love of my life," he said. "So I do the ride of my life."
During his visit, Scott said, the class discussed the purpose of Pelotonia.
"We talked about what is cancer and how you get it," Scott said. "Some students thought you could get it from one another. We cleared up misunderstandings and talked about how there's no cure but some medicines for it. We talked about why people ride."
When Schneider asked the students if they knew someone who had cancer, they all raised hands, Scott said.
The day after Schneider's visit, second-grader Kelsea Waid asked if the class could raise money for Pelotonia.
"She shared her idea, and immediately, the entire class was enthusiastic as a group," Scott said. "Over the next week, we talked about our plan. A lot of their ideas were to raise money through a lemonade stand or their piggy banks at home.
"I asked them to think about what we could do at school. We thought about ideas for a week; then they voted on the idea they liked the best."
A classroom sale generated the most votes.
"One kid said she could make bracelets, and another talked about what he could sell," Scott said. "One student asked if he could bring toys he no longer wanted. We had a lot of baked goods the kids made themselves. One girl made an apple pie, and another made cheese sandwiches. We had several crafts: paintings, drawings, key chains and bracelets."
On the day of the sale, desks were arranged in two rows, with a shopping aisle in between.
"We had 15 kids bring in something to sell, and they displayed the items on their desks," Scott said. "The whole thing lasted 45 minutes. We had some donations at the end."
In addition to raising funds for cancer research, the class sale served as a lesson in math.
"They practiced counting and organizing money," Scott said. "They brought in money from their piggy banks. They wanted to help people who have cancer. It was so important to them. Everyone was very engaged. The day of the sale, they were just buzzing. After the sale, one kid said, 'This has been the best day of my life.' I think it was because they had ownership in it. Every step of the way, it was their ideas. Everybody was well-prepared and worked hard."
Schneider said fundraising for the 2013 Pelotonia ends today (Oct. 10). The 2012 bike tour raised a record $16,871,403.
"Part of the fun is the ride," he said. "The work is getting the money. That's what it's all about. I'm over $4,000, and this is the most important donation I've gotten so far in my book. They are learning to be good citizens. This is the hope of the future."