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Founded 2008 in Columbus, Ohio
Headquarters 351 W. Nationwide Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43215
Key people
Kelley Griemser (COO)

Pelotonia founded in Columbus, Ohio in 2008, is a grassroots bike tour that funds cancer research at The Ohio State University. Pelotonia is a two-day experience that includes a weekend of cycling, entertainment and volunteerism. As a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, Pelotonia raises millions of dollars each year for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Pelotonia's operating expenses are covered by funding partners, so that 100% of every Rider raised dollar goes directly to fund cancer research.


Due to stagnation in government funding for cancer research noted in 2008, Mike Caligiuri, director of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and distinguished research physician, recognized the need to expand current funding. Inspired by the broad success of grassroots initiatives supporting other nationally based cancer programs, Mike Caligiuri presented the idea of a grassroots cycling event in Ohio to Cindy Hilsheimer (President of The James Cancer Hospital Foundation Board (JFB)) who sought and obtained one year of funding for the entire event from NetJets (founder Richard Santulli). Together, Mike Caligiuri, Cindy Hilsheimer (JFB), Daniel Rosenthal (NetJets), and Peter Weiler (OSU Foundation) founded Pelotonia in 2008, a 501(c)3 devoted to creating a grassroots cycling event for which 100% of funds raised would go towards cancer research with "One Goal -->End Cancer". Cancer survivor Tom Lennox was hired as the first CEO and together with Mike rode 163 miles in the summer of 2008 across Cape Cod in the Pan Mass Challenge that supports the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The experience created a strong bond between the two, and Pelotonia was off and running. Following year 1 in 2009, Pelotonia has been funded in its entirety by Peggy and Richard Santulli, L-Brands, and The Huntington Bank as the three major sponsors, with additional support from Nationwide Insurance, American Electric Power, the Harold C. Schott Foundation, Cardinal Health, ScottsMiracle-Gro, and Kenyon College, along with a multitude of in-kind supporting partners.

The model of Pelotonia remains simple: Pelotonia’s operating expenses are covered by the funding partners so that 100% of every dollar raised by Pelotonia Riders, Virtual Riders and Volunteers goes directly to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Pelotonia was initially funded with a five-year, $12.5 million commitment, with a goal to raise $39 million during this time period. Instead, Pelotonia has raised over $61 million in its first five years. In year four, Pelotonia became the number one cycling fundraiser in America by rider numbers. In 2013, Pelotonia was ranked number 22 among the top run, walk and/or ride fundraising events in the U.S.A.

Huntington Chief Executive Officer Stephen Steinour called the bank’s decision to get involved an easy one and said Pelotonia “has created a rallying point we didn’t fully expect” that has changed the company’s culture for the better.

“Seeing the supporters all along the ride holding up signs made each pedal and each mile easier to deal with,” said cancer survivor and Pelotonia Rider Matt Hare. “Pelotonia is something that I will continue to do every year.”

Making the experience special for every Rider has been Tom Lennox’s mission during his amazing term as CEO which was completed in 2013. “It’s all about delivering an emotional and first class experience,” he said. “And it’s not just the three-day weekend of the ride, but throughout the entire year—and that mindset manifests itself in everything we do. If we pull that off, the fundraising takes care of itself and then it’s on Mike to find a cure.”

The 2013 event drew 6,723 Riders and more than 2,300 Volunteers. The slightly more than US$19 million raised in 2013 brought the total raised for cancer research over the first five years of the event to more than US$61 million.[1]

The James[edit]

All administrative and promotional costs are covered by sponsorship and Rider registration. As a result, all money raised for Pelotonia is donated for research to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James). The OSUCCC - James strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State’s cancer program as “exceptional,” the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program’s 228-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a “Top Hospital” as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Pelotonia funds are used to recruit and retain research talent, purchase equipment, fund research for students of all levels through the Pelotonia Fellowship program, and fund two-year faculty teams for novel research ideas aimed at the prevention and/or treatment of cancer through the Pelotonia Research Award Program.[2]

The Pelotonia Fellowship Program trains promising and accomplished undergraduate, graduate, medical and postdoctoral students from any discipline at Ohio State who have the potential to become independent cancer researchers. The Fellowship Program started in 2010 and to date has awarded 225 student fellowships through an annual allocation of $2 million in Pelotonia revenue for this program. Scholarship recipients so far include 99 undergraduates, 59 graduates, four medical students, 48 postdoctoral fellows and 15 international scholars.[3]

The Pelotonia Research Award Program provides “idea” grants that allow creative teams of scientists to embark on research that could lead to discoveries resulting in better treatments and prevention strategies. To date, 32 research teams have received Pelotonia idea grants totaling millions of dollars. The teams represent collaborations among several colleges and departments, as well as three academic institutions (including Nationwide Children’s Hospital). The awards are issued via a peer-review process conducted by scientists not competing for the grants. The grants cover an array of studies, from the genetics of triple-negative breast cancer to imaging of precancerous pancreatic lesions; from neurofibroma tumorigenesis and therapy to the molecular mechanisms of the body’s natural killer cells against multiple myeloma; from the role of the ATF3 gene in the development and treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia to genomic aberrations driving metastatic squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).[4]

Pelotonia funds have helped bring new laboratories online in Ohio State’s Biomedical Research Tower and have supported the purchase of scientific instrumentation. Technology purchased in 2013 included: •REES Enterprise Environmental Monitoring System •Sciclone NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) Workstation •Diagenode IPStar Compact for epigenetic applications This instrumentation and other Pelotonia-funded equipment is accessible to and will benefit the research of more than 300 cancer investigators at the OSUCCC - James in the coming year.[5]

Event format[edit]

To participate in Pelotonia, Riders sign up to bike one of several possible distances, ranging from 25 to 180 miles, with ascending mandatory minimum fundraising goals. The longest distances (100+ miles) are ridden over two days, while other Riders complete their distances on day one. Riders are responsible for a registration fee and the shortfall between their fundraising and their distance's mandatory fundraising goal, as well as their own equipment. The intent is for Riders to conduct fundraisers and solicit donations throughout the year before the event. Four or more Riders may sign up together to form a peloton, not only to ride together but to work to raise funds together as well. Additionally, pelotons may combine efforts in teams called "super pelotons," raising the profile of their collective donations and allowing for different offices, floors, or groups within corporations, communities, and institutions to work together on both the small and large scales.

Pelotonia starts with an opening ceremony on a Friday in August. On Saturday morning, all Riders leave Columbus or alternative starting locations and ride to their registered distance. Each end-point town for the routes hosts a celebration for Riders and has lodging for those completing their distances on the following day. From 2009 through 2011, the 100-mile mark city was Athens, Ohio, with festivities and lodging occurring at Ohio University. For 2012, Riders of the four longest out of six routes went to Gambier, Ohio, and Kenyon College.[6]

Virtual riders[edit]

To expand the number of people who can participate, Pelotonia instituted a “Virtual Rider” program. Virtual Riders participate in Pelotonia solely by fundraising, as opposed to riding or volunteering. Intended for those who cannot ride, or prefer not to, the Virtual Riders can still help raise money for cancer research.[7]


Year Dates Routes Riders Total Raised
2009 Aug 28-30 4 2,265 $4,511,868
2010 Aug 20-22 4 4,047 $7,846,705
2011 Aug 19-21 4 4,986 $13,108,639
2012 Aug 10-12 6 6,212 $16,871,403
2013 Aug 9-11 6 6,723 $19,007,104
2014 Aug 8-10 6 7,270 $21,049, 621
2015 Aug 7-9 6 7,981 $23,659,675
2016 Aug 6-7 6 7,749 $24,104,423
2017 Aug 4-6 6 8,021 $26,229,637
Total Funds Raised To Date: $156,389,075

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rita Price (2013-12-05). "Pelotonia raises $19 million this year for Ohio State cancer research". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  2. ^ "Where the money goes". Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Pelotonia Fellowship Program Overview" (PDF). Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Pelotonia Idea Grants". Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Providing Tools for Discovery" (PDF). Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Pelotonia Partner". Kenyon College. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Virtual riders". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 

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