Pickerington's Hanim Shepherd, family motivated to support community through Pelotonia

PAUL COMSTOCK
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Hanim Shepherd, holding her 10-month-old daughter, Aurora, will ride 25 miles to support this year's Pelotonia, accompanied by daughter Larique, 15. The family, including Phillip, 10, has participated in other fundraising efforts to aid Pelotonia, which supports cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute.

Hanim Shepherd and her daughter, Larique, 15, will ride their bicycles this year as part of the annual Pelotonia event to raise money to fight cancer.

Unlike past Pelotonias -- when bicyclists rode in a group -- Shepherd and her daughter will make their ride as a duo.

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, Aug. 7, to Sunday, Aug. 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.

This will be the fifth year Shepherd has participated in Pelotonia.

She and her family moved from Texas to Pickerington in 2012, and that's when she saw posters for Pelotonia and asked co-workers what it was about.

She said her best friend in high school lost his father to pancreatic cancer, and she has known at least 20 people lost to or affected by cancer.

"I ride so our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors are given a second chance at life through the tireless work of doctors, researchers and scientists that follow their passion and work vigorously for a cure," she said.

It would be challenging to socially distance 8,000 people participating in a Pelotonia bicycle ride during the pandemic, Shepherd said.

"The atmosphere and the energy in the air, and all the people. ... It's sad we won't have that his year, she said.

Despite the "COVID craziness the world is going through," Shepherd said, she, her son, Phillip, 10, and Larique are engaging in volunteer work to aid not only Pelotonia but the overall community, as well. She also has a 10-month-old daughter, Aurora.

"In years past, we helped my mom with her fundraising by helping sell our old toys, books, games and clothes, as well as baked treats, water and lemonade at our community garage sale," Larique said.

"My brother and I really like helping, knowing the money is going to a great cause that will help others. Finally, the last goal for Pelotonia is to volunteer at least 20 hours before the end of summer, something that we can all do as a family," she said.

Shepherd said she wasn't much of a cyclist until she got involved with Pelotonia. She bought a 10-speed specifically for Pelotonia. The family more recently got a new bike that Larique will ride for Pelotonia this year.

"I feel it is so important to join a cause which supports the community, which is why I am beyond excited to get to take a step and join in this year," Larique said.

"As many of us have family and friends stricken with cancer, I choose to join my mom in supporting Pelotonia so I, too, can save many people's lives and help many families that have been impacted in some way by this awful disease," she said.

Shepherd earlier worked for the Limited Brands and is a consumables manager for Big Lots at New Albany. Both companies have been supportive of Pelotonia, she said.

Big Lots "is so passionate about giving back to the community. They want us to do what we can for the community," she said.

Coworkers often have ridden together, she said, for collaboration, camaraderie and a good cause.

Last year, Pelotonia had a minimum fund-raising commitment of $1,250 for a one-day 25-mile ride from Columbus to Pickerington, with two 200-mile routes also set.

This year, she said, "Pelotonia gives you the opportunity to say, 'Here's my (fundraising) goal.' You raise whatever funds you want to raise."

On July 16, Shepherd said, she had a set goal of $250 and a stretch goal of $500.

To contribute to the Shepherds' Peolotonia fundraising, go to mypelotonia.org/profile/HS0029.

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."

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