The Rider

April 27, 2010

Life Lessons From Jill’s Mom

Filed under: Rider Profiles — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

Carol May wasn’t someone to give in to cancer.

Here's Carol in her kayak. She refused to give in to cancer during her brave battle - and was an inspiration to her family

“She wouldn’t let cancer define her,” said her daughter, Jill Wohlgemuth, a Pelotonia rider. “She said just because I have cancer doesn’t mean I’m sick – and she continued to kayak and ride her horses. She had this amazing spirit and was such a powerful force in everyone’s life who ever met her.”

Carol eventually lost her battle with cancer – just a few months ago. She is one of the hundreds of examples we can find right here, among Pelotonia’s riders, of a courageous mom who served as a role model and inspiration for her children – and grandchildren.

Jill grew up with her family in Cincinnati and now lives in Kansas City, where she’s an occupational therapist and certified driving rehabilitation specialist. In this later part of her job she evaluates and trains people who have suffered serious brain injuries and helps determine if they can safely drive a regular car or a modified van – and then trains them to do so.

That's Jill racing -and in the lead!

Jill, 46, is also a triathlete, although this year she decided to concentrate more on bike racing.

“She’s the reason I’m as athletic as I am,” Jill said of Carol. “She was such an inspiration. She was a doer and a goer and she was constantly doing new things that challenged her.”

Carol was initially diagnosed with cancer in October 2008 and received treatment at a Cincinnati hospital. “She went into remission for maybe two months and then the cancer came back,” Jill said, adding at this point the family sought a second opinion and moved Carol to The James for treatment.

Carol was at The James during the inaugural Pelotonia ride. “She was running around The James, hooked up to an IV pole, looking for Lance,” Jill said.

This is how Jill first heard about Pelotonia – and decided to ride this year in honor of her mom. The event will be a family affair as Jill’s husband, Fred, will be there. And so will her father, Gary, who will bring the RV, and Jill’s two sisters, Shari and Amy, and their families.

“I think I’m going to have miles of time to reflect,” Jill said of the ride. “I feel like she’s going to be with me, she’ll be my tailwind when I’m feeling tired. And it’s a great opportunity to feel like I’m doing something to help after I felt so helpless before.”

The May girls: Carol on the bottom left; Jill on the upper left, Shari to her right, and Amy on the bottom right.

By design, Carol – who knew the end was near – made sure her battle with cancer brought her family closer together.

“We pulled together as a unit,” Jill explained. “I’d been gone (from the Cincinnati area, where the rest of her family lives) since I was 20. My sisters and I had a chance to reconnect and get closer.”

10 Things About Jill…

Favorite ride


Dream ride

New England in the fall

Current Pelotonia bike

Cervelo SLC

Dream bike

My Cervelo SLC

Favorite movie

Fried Green Tomatoes

Favorite TV show


Favorite book

The Poisonwood Bible

Favorite musician/group

Trampled Under Foot

Favorite athlete


Favorite post-ride meal

Salmon and pasta


1 Comment »

  1. What a wonderful way to honor your mom. Sounds like she was such an inspiration in your life and I can see why from your description in this article.

    Comment by Meg Larsen — April 29, 2010 @ 4:07 PM

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