Daughter's fight motivates Westerville's Brian Stevens to go extra mile for Pelotonia

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Brian Stevens and his 4-year-old daughter, Quinn, take time out from cycling for a photograph. Stevens, 41, said he and his wife, Allison, learned their daughter, Quinn, would require treatment for stage 4 cancer in early 2019 at age 2.

Westerville's Brian Stevens will ride a minimum of 125 miles for Pelotonia, pedaling his bicycle to support cancer research and for his 4-year-old daughter, who is in remission after battling cancer of the kidney, lungs and lymph nodes last year.

Stevens, 41, said he and his wife, Allison, learned their daughter, Quinn, would require treatment for stage 4 cancer in early 2019 at age 2.

"We planned to attack it, and did," Brian Stevens said.

Quinn received 40 to 50 chemotherapy treatments from March through October at Nationwide Children's Hospital and about 15 radiation treatments from Ohio State University's James Cancer Center last May.

Throughout the journey, Brian Stevens said, he and his wife thought about what they could do.

"Everybody kept reaching out asking, 'what can we do to help?' " he said.

The couple decided he would ride in his first Pelotonia with Allison and Quinn cheering him on.

"Pelotonia has such an amazing mission," Allison Stevens said. "We are so fortunate, blessed and grateful to have benefited from all of the fundraising and research that has been done to fight pediatric cancer in the past. We also know that we cannot stop fighting now."

She said there are many new technologies and treatments that can be game-changers for families in the near future.

"Last year, we wanted to try to make the best out of a difficult situation and thought despite our (daughter) fighting cancer, it would be a good time to join the Pelotonia cause to raise funds to help other families," she said. "The ride was awesome. The riders and their 'reasons I ride' were emotional and inspiring. So many riders came up to us to love on us; there were not enough words to express the beauty, kindness and love in the heart of every rider, every volunteer and supporter."

Allison and Quinn were able to go to each rest stop along a 55 mile route last year to cheer for Brian and the other riders.

"It was important for us to have her (Quinn) there so that she can see every rider, every prayer and the power of God's goodness pulsating through that whole event," Allison Stevens said. "Brian represented Quinn with a pink tutu (in typical Quinn fashion) and it was so emotional and celebratory watching him come across the finish line."

Through God's grace and mercy, Brian and Allison Stevens said, their daughter is in remission.

"As we celebrate our blessings, we also will always continue to ride in Pelotonia to support those that are fighting this terrible disease," Allison Stevens said. "They are not alone in this fight, and God's cancer warrior's continue to research and fight to find cures."

Brian Stevens said his experience was "awesome" last year.

"To experience the spirit of it and speaking with everyone and why they're there, it felt like a community," he said. "It was. Everybody there has been touched by cancer in some way and they shared stories. It was a very emotional ride."

This year, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Brian Stevens will continue to raise funds on behalf of his family, while Allison Stevens hopes to join him next year for the first time to ride in Pelotonia.

Brian Stevens, who rides on the Huntington team, said he has always enjoyed family bicycle rides. He has a child's seat on the back of his bicycle that has allowed him to take Quinn on long rides.

"She still loves riding (as a passenger) on a bike," he said.

"(Recently), two days before her birthday, we took her training wheels off. We have a future rider."

Allison Stevens said Nationwide Children's Hospital and OSU's James Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute have been a blessing to their family and countless others.

Because of the coronavirus 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 OSU's James Cancer Center.

Brian Stevens said he is riding one mile for every $10, and his ride will be completed in 50 to 75 mile increments starting Aug. 8.

This year's 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."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla