Andrea Evans had no plans to ride in Pelotonia this year. She was tired, having done so many miles on her bike the previous four years. Heading into the 2019 Pelotonia, Evans just wanted to help with fundraising for Fisher’s Peloton — all while remaining stationary and comfortable.
But then she got a call.
Bob Packo, husband to Evans’ long-time friend from graduate school, had just been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer.
“They’re pretty aggressive with his treatment,” said Evans, who works as associate director of orientation in the Undergraduate Programs Office. “He just started and it’s rough.”
The devastating news inspired Evans to get back on her bike for this year’s Pelotonia. She’s riding — and fundraising — for Packo and everyone else touched by cancer.
Kim Bader, an academic advising manager in the Undergraduate Programs Office, is also riding.
“My mom passed away from leukemia when I was in college, and then my dad was diagnosed several years ago with leukemia,” Bader said of her motivation to get involved with Pelotonia. Her father has since recovered.
Evans is captain of Fisher’s Peloton, which has a stretch goal of raising $15,000 this year to help fight cancer. She, along with others across the college, are encouraging the Fisher community to support the annual event, as a rider or as a virtual rider.
“They don’t have to be on some virtual bike for the weekend or anything like that, but they just sign up and do fundraising,” Evans said of virtual riders. “There’s no commitment beyond $100, and anything beyond that is great.”
Virtual riders for Fisher’s Peloton include Dean Anil Makhija; Heidi Hubmann, associate director of the National Center for the Middle Market; Christine Benadum, associate director of special events; and Margie Bogenschutz, senior director for Undergraduate Career Management and Recruitment.
Bogenschutz has also supported Fisher’s Peloton for years through bake sales. What began as a way to support her daughter as a student rider, eventually become yearly events for her staff.
“Early on, we made $150 to $300 on the bake sale, but the last two years I’ve introduced Venmo and the Cash app as ways to donate if for those unable to make the bake sale. Since then, I’ve raised over $600 each year,” she said.
Bogenschutz said every penny goes to riders in the Fisher and Team Buckeye Pelotons. This year’s bake sale will be held 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. on July 16 in the lobby of Mason Hall.
Other ways to get involved include buying raffle tickets, which are available through Evans for $15 per single ticket or three for $30. Further details, including a list of prizes, are available at go.osu.edu/tbraffle.
In addition to riding and fundraising, supporters can also volunteer at the event. Volunteers perform such duties as opening and closing events, helping at rest stops with snacks and cheering on the riders.
“Pelotonia wouldn’t exist without volunteers,” Evans said. “Kim and I have both been volunteers in the past as well; it’s just as rewarding and just as essential as the riders in the effort.”
Evans and Bader are hoping Fisher faculty and staff will support Fisher’s Peloton with its $15,000 goal.
“We’re all family here,” Evans said. “If somebody down the hall is riding their bike, hopefully you’ll contribute to them.”
Since its creation nine years ago, Fisher’s Peloton has raised nearly $100,000 for cancer research.
“We’ve got a great group of people here who are very generous,” she said.
Evans also encouraged people to witness the event in person.
“Go see a little bit of it happening,” she said. “Find a little corner somewhere and see the bike riders go by; see the people cheering with their signs and then you’ll see the impact and feel what this event is. So many people are fighting really hard against something that affects all of us.”
Bader said the event is addictive.
“If you do Pelotonia once, you’re kind of hooked into doing something,” she said. “For years I haven’t ridden, but I’ve done virtual riding or volunteering or both. If you experience it once, it’s amazing.”
Evans will keep Packo in mind while riding 25 miles in this year’s event — putting in time, sweat and heart to raise money in the fight against cancer.
“We’re doing our part,” Evans said. “We’re rooting and cheering for him."