Dublin's Richard Helmreich has developed a passion for Pelotonia thanks mainly to three motivational factors.
Helmreich, who is an attorney with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur law firm in Columbus, has teamed with colleagues to ride in the charity bicycle tour in all 11 years of its existence.
Pelotonia, which was founded in 2008 and held its first ride in 2009, is both a 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. The ride 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.
Helmreich will again cycle the two-day, 180-mile route, which begins in downtown Columbus on Saturday, Aug. 3, and concludes in New Albany on Sunday, Aug. 4.
First, Helmreich said the event has helped him maintain a physically fit lifestyle.
Secondly, it promotes camaraderie with his team at the law firm.
Finally, and likely most importantly, it raises money for a worthwhile cause.
"It's such a good organization, the James, and the research they're doing is so powerfully effective," Helmreich said. "The event raises money and all 100 percent of it goes to research. It's well-organized. It is worth my time and my energy and my dollars."
Like most riders, Helmreich's family and friends have been affected by cancer. He honors those in his life affected by the disease by inscribing their names on his calves while riding.
Those affected include his sister, Beth Haeuptle, and mother-in-law, Betty Lou Harden, both of whom are breast-cancer survivors. His grandfather, Chuck Blakely, died from lung cancer; his grandmother, Maxine Helmreich, died from ovarian cancer; and his father-in-law, Ken Harden, died from stomach cancer.
"We all fear hearing the words, 'You have cancer,' " Helmreich said in his Pelotonia profile at pelotonia.org. "I hope to inspire the people we all know with cancer to fight the good fight.
"My goal is to ride in all of their honor and raise money for effective research so my kids (and all kids) will have a cure to celebrate rather than a terrible disease to fear."
Helmreich, 55, said Pelotonia has helped deepen his love for distance cycling.
"It's to a point where I don't think I'll ever be able to not ride it," he said. "I'm hooked. ... About three years before Pelotonia came along, I had ridden just in the neighborhood and on bike trails and was not a serious cyclist. When this event came along, we formed a group here. It became a much longer ride, it got more serious, so I started training more and riding more with people."
Tracy Treon, the manager of business development with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, also has ridden in the event all 11 years.
"Pelotonia is very near and dear to many of us at the firm," said Treon, who rides the 100-mile route. "It's beyond inspiring to be part of a community working to end cancer. It's quite an honor to be able to ride in support of so many who are fighting the disease and in honor of those who bravely lost their battles."