An Upper Arlington-based Pelotonia team that has drawn members from throughout Ohio and beyond and set fundraising records for cancer research, will host a kick-off event June 1 to gear up for this year's ride.
Stefanie's Team of Hope will hold its fourth annual Kick-Off Celebration from 6-10 p.m. June 1 at the Amelita Mirolo Barn at Sunny 95 Park, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane, Upper Arlington.
It will feature everything from music and drinks to presentations by Pelotonia Chief Executive Officer Tom Lennox and Chris Spielman, an Ohio State Buckeye football legend and husband of the late Stefanie Spielman, a cancer crusader.
More importantly to event organizers, the Kick-Off Celebration will serve as another event to raise awareness about cancer research and to energize guests to ride in or support this year's Pelotonia, a charity bicycle ride held in August to raise money for cancer research.
"We hold this event to kick off the season, get everybody revved up, say what our goals are and to talk about our successes," said Shannon Peterson, an Upper Arlington resident and captain of Stefanie's Team of Hope. "It's just a great opportunity to raise awareness about our team.
"In recent years, we've had a lot of success in recruiting new members."
Stefanie's Team of Hope was established in 2010 by Peterson in honor of her friend, Stefanie Spielman, who died in November 2009 at the age of 42 following her fifth bout with breast cancer.
Peterson said she was inspired by Spielman to take up the fight against cancer; to date, Stefanie's Team of Hope has been the top grassroots fundraising Peloton, bringing in more than $822,000 for cancer research over the past three years.
This year, the team is looking to build on its 145 members and have another record year on its way to surpassing the $1-million fundraising mark.
"This year, I would project us to have at least 200 members," Peterson said. "With 200 riders, we will raise, at a minimum, $500,000.
"We're going to beat cancer by growing our team," she said. "The more riders we have, the more money we're going to raise. That's how we're going to beat cancer."
The Kick-Off Celebration is free to attend and open to anyone.
Attendees will learn more about Stefanie's Team of Hope and will have opportunities to sign up to join the team or to contribute to the fight against cancer.
Presentations will be given by Lennox, Chris Spielman and Nancy Rapport, a cancer survivor and Stefanie's Team of Hope member.
There also will be a bike giveaway and opportunities to purchase signed copies of Chris Spielman's book, That's Why I'm Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story, which chronicles Stefanie's battle with cancer and how she inspired her husband and others to continue her fight.
While the event is not primarily a fundraiser, it helps bolster the ranks of Stefanie's Team of Hope, Peterson said.
That's important, she said, because the team is determined to remain the frontrunner in the Pelotonia.
"We're the No. 1 grassroots fundraising Peloton and there's no way we're giving up that title," said Peterson, who last month received the Stefanie's Champion of Hope award from the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. "The harder we work, the more money we raise and we're going to motivate others to do the same.
"It's just a great way to honor Stefanie and the others who've battled cancer."
Additional information about the Stefanie's Team of Hope Kick-Off Celebration is available by contacting Peterson at stefaniesteamofhope@ gmail.com.