'Cancer didn't end,' so Powell couple pedal on toward Pelotonia goals
Pelotonia has been canceled for 2020, but the need for it hasn't been.
That's why Powell resident Dianna Caspary, who has participated in Pelotonia each year since 2014, was determined to find ways to raise funds -- despite the cancellation of the event's centerpiece bike ride.
"It's about sharing awareness of the organization and its work," said Caspary, 43. "Cancer didn't end. The need for Pelotonia is still there."
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.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and a desire to keep participants, volunteers and supporters safe, Pelotonia in May canceled its annual weekend ride and in-person events, which were slated Friday to Sunday, Aug. 7 to 9.
But a reimagined 2020 Pelotonia has been rolling on virtually, with participants setting their own fundraising and activity goals and tracking them through mypelotonia.org to continue the mission of supporting cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute.
Instead of taking part in a 50-mile ride with the team from Scotts Miracle-Gro and her husband, Eric, 35, who also works for the company, Caspary has new aims.
Her goals include riding 300 miles before Sept. 1 and making and donating 50 face masks. She hopes to raise $1,250 for the organization through her efforts.
"The masks, that's something I was able to do," she said. "And I would say we might not be doing all the training riding we would normally do to get ready for Pelotonia, but we're still out there."
"We love the cause," Eric Caspary said. "We're not riders who are out there doing the 200-mile course, but we are dedicated to participating.
"It's important to still commit to the cause," he said. "Cancer touches so many families."
Dianna Caspary is among them. She rides for her grandmother, who lost her life to cancer when Dianna was 5 years old.
"She was the first person I ever knew who passed away," she said. "Cancer was a term you would hear, but I just knew she was gone."
Dianna Capary's mother, Jane Williams, is a cancer survivor, having battled colon cancer in 2004.
"We had heard of and even been around Pelotonia, and we knew what it did," Dianna Caspary said. "I was never an avid athlete, but I've always enjoyed cycling. It was something we thought would be good to be a part of and a way to make a difference."
This year's Pelotonia format includes a unifying event in the spirit of Pelotonia's traditional opening ceremony: a special broadcast called Legends LIVE! that will be streamed on pelotonia.org/rise, Facebook (facebook.com/pelotonia) and YouTube (youtube.com/ridepelotonia) from 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7.
"As we've had to pivot away from our traditional mass physical gathering this year, our priority has been to create new opportunities for our community to engage and continue to raise critical funds for cancer research," said Doug Ulman, president and CEO of Pelotonia. "The My Pelotonia platform and upcoming Legends LIVE! broadcast on Friday, Aug. 7, allow anyone, anywhere to play an important role in Pelotonia's mission this year.
"Legends LIVE! will be a celebration of what we've accomplished so far and the important work still to come – featuring moving and uplifting stories of survival, research successes, musical performances and many special guests."
Alternate opportunities aside, Eric Caspary said, he definitely will miss the ride weekend this year.
"It's such a fantastic experience, the excitement and the camaraderie. Everyone should do it at least once," he said. "I understand it's hard to do in this environment. I hope we can do it next year."
Dianna Caspary even allowed that she might be convinced to do one of the longer rides.
"Maybe someday," she said.