We all have stories, don't we? Stories of watching a loved one fight cancer - and whether they survived or lost their battle, their story (or perhaps your story) makes you crave a cure for cancer. After watching my youngest nephew transform from being an innocent 19 month old (now 3 year old) to a warrior fighting like a champ, the feelings range from helplessness to wanting to do anything you can to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Amid all of this political nonsense, everyone can agree that #CancerSucks
This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering for two non-profits that make it their whole mission to fight cancer in their own way. I want to part of that fight, so I volunteered my services to support their fundraising efforts.
Founded in 2008, Pelotonia is two days of cycling, starting on Saturday in Columbus and ending that leg of the race in Gambier. Then for those that choose to ride in the whole race, the riders take off from Gambier early Sunday morning to head back to New Albany. The whole weekend is about volunteerism - whether you are a rider, or working behind the scenes... it's all about working together to raise money and awareness to fight cancer together. There were 7,748 riders this year and 275 volunteers. Over $14K has been raised so far (fundraising ends Oct. 7th). I didn't raise funds this year, but I think next year (still as a volunteer), I will work at raising funds too.
Thanks to its generous funding partners, Pelotonia is able to direct 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar to cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
This was my first year to volunteer for Pelotonia, and I only helped out on Saturday up at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio - Saturday's Finish Line. Of course, I volunteered as a photographer :) Here are some of my images and stories:
In the home stretch, as riders left the bike path and rounded the corner, fans were waiting, cheering them on, "You're almost there... Keep going!!" Signs lined both sides of the path cheering for moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters; there were "Thank You" signs and lots of clapping - anything to let the riders know that we appreciated their laboring efforts.
Crossing the finish line was an exhausting feat for most, but still elated with the accomplishment of doing it as a team!!
And of course, friends, family, and other teammates were anxiously awaiting their arrival.
(Above) I think it's just as important to catch the last to cross the finish as it is the first. They all work just as hard... and all deserve the same recognition and appreciation. I was the only photographer left out here by the finish line, because we were told (earlier) that all of the riders had come in already. However, I noticed that there was still a small crowd lingering at the finish line, like they were waiting for riders; so I asked, and sure enough, there were two riders that were still out there. They were riding with the assistance of the Pelotonia escorts, or police road blocks. The signs guiding the way had already been taken down, so they were basically riding blind... using their GPS to figure out the roads/paths to take. They had a funeral to attend in the morning, so they didn't leave the Columbus starting line until 1pm. And yet, they arrived at Kenyon around 8pm. These two guys, came in really late compared to the other riders but probably made better time than the majority of them. And thankfully they had awesome friends & teammates still waiting for them, cheering them to the finish line.
During Pelotonia, you'll hear a lot about the riders - because they do a lot of the physical hard work. But let's not forget about all of the volunteers too - thankfully, everyone, everywhere, was extremely grateful (and vocally thankful) for the work that all parties played in this weekend. I think it was honestly the friendliest group of people that I've ever worked with. Everyone was nice!!
Not everyone stayed the night... some loaded their bikes up on moving trucks and shipped them back to their starting locations. But for those that stayed overnight, so they could get up and ride again in the morning, this is where they stored their bikes. It's definitely a sight to see. And every bike tells a story of the rider that it carries... some louder than others.
Massage therapy students at Knox Technical Center in Mount Vernon, were kind enough to donate their time to help ease the pain of riders.
Hot Pink Racers
Monday, I drove down to Columbus to meet up with these four guys. They call themselves the Hot Pink Racers. Again, everyone has a story. The band, like Pelotonia, also started in 2008, after lead singer and guitarist, Joe Cygan, lost his wife to breast cancer. Honoring the loved ones that they lost, they perform at various events with 100% of their profits going to breast cancer charities.
Again, I lent my time and talent to help them, help fight the battle that can only be won together.
The session went a lot longer than I originally promised... but I am very happy with the results that I delivered. It's not my normal style... but I think it was appropriate for their look and sound. And of course, I had to make a handful of the images hot pink :)
A girl with a camera, trying to be creative out loud. I keep my clients as friends; and believe in endless possibilities.