Our associate Gretchen first heard about Pelotonia at a lunch-and-learn event on the Marysville campus in 2014. Her friend and coworker Michelle had previously participated in the fundraising event and asked her if she was interested. They both liked riding bicycles and being active outside. After listening to the presentation, they thought, “We can do this!”
In memory of her grandmother
Gretchen was motivated to participate because it was a good cause, supporting cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, known as The James. Her grandmother had just passed away a few years earlier and had been treated at The James.
Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Gretchen’s grandmother started showing symptoms of dementia, mostly losing her short-term memory. She then developed a large lump around her collar bone, which was a cancer tumor that had metastasized from the cancer originating in her lungs.
“Often, my grandmother couldn’t remember why she was going through cancer treatment or what was happening to her,” Gretchen says. “Sadly my grandfather would have to explain, sometimes hourly, that she had cancer. I cannot begin to comprehend the shock of a cancer diagnosis for anyone, but to see her go through that shock again and again was just heartbreaking for our family to watch.”
“My grandmother was the nicest, sweetest person I have ever met,” Gretchen says. “She loved flower gardening, animals—especially dogs—and my cousins and I adored spending time with her. I remember her each time I ride.”
Bicycling because of mom
After a few years of participating, Gretchen encouraged her mom to get involved with Pelotonia as well. Her mom is the reason that she likes biking to begin with.
Gretchen’s mom Nancy took a bicycling class as an elective while getting her undergraduate degree at Ohio State in the 1970s. She liked it so much it turned into a lifelong hobby, which spread to their whole family. Gretchen’s first road bike was a hand-me-down that her mom bought after she was born to get back into shape.
Gretchen says that convincing her mom to join the ride was less about the biking commitment and more about how to fundraise to meet her goal. (Pelotonia riders commit to raising a specific dollar amount based on the distance they are riding.) Once her mom felt confident about the fundraising piece she was all in.
“My mom loves riding in memory of her mother, but the ride took on new meaning last year after her own melanoma diagnosis,” Gretchen says. “Thankfully, she is fine after surgery, but I think supporting Pelotonia has become even more personal to her.”
A feel-good event
Each year, Gretchen is amazed at the positive, feel-good vibes that encompass Pelotonia’s ride weekend, especially since the mission is centered around a sad and scary disease. The positivity restores her faith in other people.
“Every rider, every volunteer, every police officer directing traffic, every person cheering from the roadside brings their best self to that event,” she says. “I would have never imagined that an event that centers around such a terrible disease would have such good vibes from start to finish.”
“I am thankful for everyone involved with Pelotonia,” says Gretchen. “I’m also very grateful for the ongoing support our team gets from Scotts and from our coworkers who donate to our fundraising rides.”
Support our Pelotonia team
You can support life-saving cancer research by making a donation to our Pelotonia associate group’s peloton, Team ScottsMiracle-Gro.
Team ScottsMiracle-Gro has raised over $2.7 million since 2010. 100% of all funds raised by Pelotonia participants goes toward innovative cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, known as The James. Research that is done at The James benefits cancer patients around the world.