On Saturday, Aug. 3, the sounds of cheering spectators, clanging cowbells and upbeat music emanated from the Kenyon Athletic Center as thousands of Pelotonia cyclists crossed the finish line in Gambier. More than 7,400 riders signed up for this year’s charity bike event, which has raised nearly $200 million for cancer research since its founding in 2008 and which is in the eighth year of partnership with Kenyon.
Pelotonia offers 15 ride options ranging from 25 to 200 miles, with all options of 55 miles or longer stopping in Gambier. Approximately 800 riders undertaking the longest routes were housed at Kenyon overnight before hitting the road again Sunday morning.
“The Office for Community Partnerships is thrilled to once again see so many different communities coming together to support Pelotonia and cancer research,” said Senior Advisor for Community Relations Jan Thomas. “We are proud that Kenyon is able to participate in many different ways, connecting with communities in Knox County and beyond, to support this incredible cause.”
A dozen riders pedaled as part of the official Kenyon peloton, led by Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman and including Kenyon students, alumni, parents and employees. The team has raised over $30,000 so far — including about $4,000 from an auction of refurbished bicycles organized by Kenyon’s bike co-op.
Through a partnership with the Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, six Kenyon students were also able to directly contribute to the fight against cancer while gaining significant undergraduate research experience. Each of them teamed up with Ohio State researchers for eight-week stints this summer:
“This program gives our students a chance to pursue cutting-edge biomedical and public health research, and Kenyon faculty benefit when our students return to campus with new ideas and new techniques,” said Professor of Biology Drew Kerkhoff, who attended a symposium July 25 at which each student presented the findings of their projects. “The research mentors at OSU value the chance to work with Kenyon students because they come in with such a high level of interest, and because their work at Kenyon prepares them to jump in and accomplish a lot.”
“I think that the Pelotonia-Kenyon partnership is a great program because it creates an infrastructure for students to directly immerse themselves in the outside research world and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world scientific questions,” Han said. “It was rewarding not just as a means to learn firsthand about how basic science is accomplished and applied by clinicians, but also as a chance to contribute to research that ultimately may improve people’s lives.”