Steven Smith of Delaware is a Pelotonia veteran.

He was one of the cyclists riding against cancer when Pelotonia staged its first fundraising ride in 2009.

Pelotonia is an annual Columbus-based charity bicycle tour and nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Like many others, Smith, 49, wanted to help raise money because he had seen how cancer had affected friends and relatives.

On Christmas Day 2013, Smith himself was added to the group of the affected when he learned he had acute promyelocytic leukemia.

He was feeling sick on Christmas Eve, with flu-like symptoms and bleeding gums. The next day, his wife, Melonie, called his mother, Karen Smith of Hilliard, a retired nurse.

Karen Smith said whatever was afflicting her son wasn't the flu -- it was serious.

Smith went to the emergency room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.

"Within a few hours, they said, 'You have APL, and you have to go to the James right now,' " Steven Smith said.

He was taken by ambulance to the James, where he stayed for a month.

He was told if he hadn't gone to the emergency room, his entire system likely would have shut down in a day or two, killing him, he said.

The hospital stay was followed by a year of treatment, with a PICC IV -- PICC is an acronym "peripherally inserted central catheter" -- attached for six months of daily chemotherapy.

"Chemo is rough. You feel lousy. You don't feel good," Smith said. "It was a tough time. ... My wife was very upset," he said.

At the time, his daughters, Tapie and Tuplen, were ages 8 and 3, respectively. They didn't understand everything that was happening, but Tapie was old enough to know she might lose her father, he said.

Smith entered remission after his treatment, he said, and he's been told he now faces a greater risk of death from being hit by bus than from the cancer.

He will ride in this year's Pelotonia -- a little less than 100 miles, he said -- and Tapie will ride with him. She's now 14, old enough to participate as a rider.

She has a small road bicycle and is excited to join in, said Smith, a longtime cycling enthusiast. Melonie and Tuplen will be cheerleaders during the ride, he said.

Smith works in procurement for L Brands Inc. Its CEO, Les Wexner, has been a supporter of Pelotonia since its early days, Smith said.

L Brands matches the fundraising of its employees participating in Pelotonia dollar for dollar, Smith said, raising millions since Pelotonia's first 2009 ride.

L Brands also pays the entrance fees for its employees riding in Pelotonia, and those employees hold smaller fundraisers throughout the year.

"Everybody has a chance do to something (to contribute)," Smith said.

He said he will ride with a group of other L Brand employees, but he is the lone cancer survivor among them. The others will ride in support of friends and family who have experienced cancer, as he did before 2013.

The annual August bike tour includes one- or two-day route options of varying mileage for which cyclists commit to raising corresponding amounts of money, all of which goes toward some form of research at Ohio State.

This year's opening ceremony is Friday, Aug. 2; the bike rides are Saturday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 4.

Through its first 10 rides, Pelotonia raised more than $184 million for cancer research, according to

Participants raise funds by forming pelotons -- fundraising teams organized by businesses, communities, academic or social organizations or simply like-minded individuals.

Smith is a member of the L Brands -- Center peloton.