When she was 22, Haley Bateson feared she had cancer.
"I had developed a branchial cleft cyst on my neck, which the doctor suspected might be cancerous," she said. "It turned out OK -- I didn't have cancer -- and I realized I was one of the lucky ones.
"I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to leading a more meaningful and impactful life and find a way to give back and help others," she said.
When she heard about Pelotonia, she said, "it sounded like a perfect fit for me."
This year, the 32-year-old Grandview Heights resident is dedicating her ride to someone special who courageously fought a 20-year battle against cancer before dying earlier this year.
"My friend, Lisa, was 32 herself when she was diagnosed," Bateson said. "She was never treated at the James (Cancer Hospital), but thanks to clinical trials like ones they have at the James, she was able to live 20 years longer than expected. She wanted to see her youngest son graduate from high school and she got to see him graduate from college.
"I'm riding for her this year."
Bateson is a four-year participant in Pelotonia and is serving as captain of Team Grandview.
She will ride the 100-mile route from Columbus to Gambier on Saturday, Aug. 4, and serve as a lead volunteer Sunday, Aug. 5.
After riding her first year in 2015, Bateson was registered to ride again in 2016.
"And then my bike was stolen from my garage and I wasn't able to ride," she said. "I still wanted to take part in Pelotonia, so I signed up to be a lead volunteer."
Volunteering at Pelotonia is as meaningful as riding, Bateson said.
"Participating in Pelotonia is such an amazing experience, whether you're a rider, a volunteer or both," Bateson said. "There's something so empowering about it. I just love the sensation of being among thousands of people who are all out there fighting for the same cause."
That fight will lead to victory, she said.
"I really believe we are going to find a cure in our lifetime," Bateson said, "and I think the work that's being done at the James is going to play a major part in that.
"I want to be a small part of the effort that leads to that cure. I can't wait for the day that happens."