The Rider

June 17, 2010

Promoting Pelotonia

Filed under: The Pelotonia Staff — The Blog @ 5:43 AM

On the Friday of the inaugural Pelotonia, Jessica Kinman spent most of the day holed up inside the Chemical Abstracts complex, working with the media and taking care of the scores of details that needed to be handled.

And yes, the stress level was high for Pelotonia’s director of publicity and communications, who had graduated from Ohio State only months before and had invested a lot in this new venture.

That's Jessica on the L, with Kelley Griesmer, Pelotonia's director of operations

“We had been so busy building this up, we’d had so many meetings and had told so many people all about what Pelotonia would be like, even though we didn’t really know for sure,” Jessica said. “Sometimes you’re so busy with all the details you lose sight of the actual event.”

And then, in the midst of the opening ceremonies, as she continued to organize and take care of details, Jessica took a quick look from backstage out across the wide expanse of lawn – which was covered with thousands and thousands of people. There was music playing, Lance was there, people were eating and having fun.

“I literally started crying,” Jessica said. “I looked at Tom (Lennox, Pelotonia’s executive director) and we both said, ‘we did it.’”


Jessica grew up in Dublin and headed to Ohio State with an eye on either teaching or marketing/public relations.

Eventually she chose the communications field, helped in part by a wonderful experience as an intern for Lifeline of Ohio, a nonprofit organization that promotes organ and tissue donation.

“I loved working there,” Jessica said. “You don’t make a lot of money working in the nonprofit world, but a lot of good comes from it. One person (who signs up as an organ and tissue donator) can save eight lives and there’s over 100,000 people waiting for life-saving transplants. That’s the same as if you filled up Ohio Stadium.”

Hey, it still sounds as though Jessica’s working for Lifeline!

After she graduated, in only three years, Jessica accepted a fulltime job at Lifeline – and several months later heard about this new bike ride, fund-raising nonprofit organization with the strange name.

“We must have talked five or six times and Tom offered me the job,” Jessica said, adding it was a tough decision to leave Lifeline.

“My dad told me I was nuts,” she said. “I had a great job and loved the people I worked with. There was no guarantee Pelotonia would work, but I had confidence that the people behind it, Tom and our board and our funding partners, wouldn’t let it not succeed and cancer is something that’s affected my family. And, no risk … no reward.”

The rewards have been ample, Jessica said, and so have the numbers of hours she and the rest of the Pelotonia staff have devoted to making it all come together. Jessica is responsible for marketing and communications duties, and also handles some rider recruitment.

Here's Jessica with Juli Capani, Pelotonia's volunteer director - and her riding/training partner

The goal for the first ride was 2,250 riders … and Jessica said she and the rest of the staff would check the rider count on the website dozens of times a day.

“We wanted to get there so bad,” she said.

And, on the Friday of opening ceremonies, the final day to register … the number of riders went up and over the magic number and settled on 2,265.

This year’s goal was initially 3,250.

“But that changed when we got our new funding partner, Huntington,” Jessica said. “(CEO) Steve Steinour said he didn’t think our goals were aspirational enough, so now the goal is 5,000 riders.”

Huntington has pledged 1,000 riders.

And yes, once again, Jessica, Tom and the rest of the staff click onto the website five, 10, 15 times a day to check the rider count.

“Last year at this time I was in so many meetings and had to tell people what Pelotonia is, they never heard of it,” Jessica said. “Now, rarely do I ever meet someone who hasn’t heard of it. And if I’m out somewhere and wearing a Pelotonia shirt, people will come up to talk to me and ask if I’m riding or how I’m involved. It’s such a good feeling to be part of this.”

This actually means she’s doing a great job as publicity and communications director.

10 things about Jessica…

Favorite ride

Pelotonia and along the Olentangy path

Dream ride

Napa Valley

Current bike

A Giant Avail

Dream bike

A Huffy

Favorite movie

Billy Madison

Favorite TV show

Private Practice

Favorite book

Tuesdays With Morrie

Favorite musician/group

John Mayer

Favorite athlete

Jessie Owens

Favorite post-ride meal

Corn on the cob


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