Many Pelotonia riders participate for deeply individual reasons.

But for the Gehres family of Grove City, what began as an act in memory of a loved one has become a tradition for the entire family.

Ericka Gehres lost her mother, Cina Stinson, to cancer in 2008, and decided to participate in Pelotonia for the first time in 2011, largely thanks to how "easy" her employer, L Brands, made participation.

"I just wanted to do something and get involved and do our part," she said.

So she and her husband, Keith, hopped on their "mountain bikes that came from Walmart" and rode 25 difficult miles.

It wasn't an easy first experience, but they were hooked.

"We knew instantly when we finished that we were going to do more and that this was something we could be passionate about," Ericka Gehres said. "The next year we bought road bikes and rode 100 miles and it's just grown from there."

This year, Ericka Gehres is registered to ride 100 miles from Columbus to Gambier on Saturday, Aug. 4, and Keith Gehres is signed up for the 180-mile two-day route that will take him from Gambier to New Albany on Sunday, Aug. 5.

When her parents started being excited about Pelotonia, Addison Gehres -- now 10 -- immediately got involved.

She started painting pictures and handing them to random people when she was 4 years old. The move, surprisingly, worked flawlessly, her parents said, and people instantly were willing to donate.

A couple years later, Addison enthusiastically asked if she could be a Pelotonia "virtual rider," a fundraising-only participant who commits to raising at least $100 for the cause. She took her job very seriously and came up with a variety of ideas to help.

One year, she sold doughnuts donated by Buckeye Donuts in Columbus. In others, she has sold lemonade or even gone door-to-door with her pitch.

But perhaps her most popular endeavor involved the family's golden Labrador retriever, Marley.

Addison started a "puppy-kissing booth" and charged $1 for kisses from Marley, who was more than happy to oblige.

"We had people just stopping and donating because they loved the story," Ericka Gehres said. "They loved that she was out there doing her part."

As of July 26, Addison had raised $1,145 for the L Brands -- MAST Global peloton, for which her parents ride.

Ericka and Keith Gehres, both 37, said they have been thrilled to see how excited Addison has become about her involvement, but they also prioritize talking to her about what her help means and why it's important.

"She understands it's not about her," Ericka Gehres said. "It's not even about us. It's about a much bigger picture, something bigger than any of us. It's so cool to see her (get involved)."

And if a 10-year-old can become a big part of Pelotonia, Ericka Gehres said, she hopes it can serve as an example of how much people are willing to support the movement.

"We always say you will be amazed the number of people who will support you, even if you haven't talked in 20 years," she said. "Cancer has affected everybody, and every $5, $10 or $20 donation counts. It adds up fast. You just have to get out here and train and ask and you'll be amazed at the support you get."

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