The Rider

July 21, 2010

Why The Rider Rides

Filed under: Rider Profiles, Steve's Stuff — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

This is the photo that gave me the idea for the name of this blog. It was taken in Athens last year at the end of Day 1 of Pelotonia

Over the past few months, I’ve talked to and written about many Pelotonia riders and volunteers whose lives have been affected by cancer. This got me thinking that a pretty big chunk of my adult life has in some way revolved around and been touched by cancer. I didn’t plan it this way … it just happened.

This, by the way, is a common thread among most of the Pelotonia people I’ve talked with. Cancer just sort of leaps into your life and takes over for a while (or longer) – and is why so many of you are passionate about riding in Pelotonia and raising money to fund the research that will eventually kick cancer’s butt.

I thought about all this during a recent bike ride – which is where I do most of my best thinking – and that maybe it was time to write about why I ride.

It started all the way back in 1986, when I was a volunteer counselor at the Ronald McDonald Camp. It’s a camp for current and former cancer patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is held the last week in August in the Pocono Mountains.

It turned out to be an amazing experience. I met and got to know this small army of brave, tough kids whose bodies had been attacked and ravaged by cancer (the treatments were much harsher back then), but who refused to give in to this terrible disease. Instead of being “the kid with cancer” or the kid with no hair, at camp they were among kids who had gone through what they’d gone through and knew what it was like to be a little different. It was amazing to see so many of them blossom and have the times of their lives. I kept going back for about 10 years.

Some of my camp friends didn’t make it … and I often think about three in particular: Joey, Woody and Michael. I remember someone telling me back then that most of these kids wouldn’t have made it if they’d been diagnosed 10 or 15 years ago, but that advances in cancer research and drugs were saving more and more lives. Bone-marrow transplants were still a fairly new things back then. Here we are, all these years later, and if Joey, Woody and Michael had been diagnosed in 2010, there’s a much better chance they’d beat their cancer. How about the kids diagnosed in 2020?

Susan can leap tall buildings - and this mountain - in a single bound

Through camp, I met Susan, who was an oncology nurse at CHOP – which is what everyone calls Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It took a while, but eventually I won her over … and we were married in 1993. BTW: oncology nurses are pretty darn amazing, and I’m not just saying that to get in good with Susan.

In 2001, Susan found a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancer. “I’m going to be positive about this and not let it get me down or make me lose my sense of humor,” she said – and then went and did exactly that during her operation and subsequent radiation treatments. We had a scare about a year ago … but it wasn’t cancer.

Soon after we moved to Columbus, in 2006, Susan got a job as an oncology nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. And yes, we only live in cities in which top-notch children’s hospitals are located. Susan helps run the clinical trials of new and promising cancer-fighting drugs and protocols – the life-saving medicines financed in part by charitable organizations such as Pelotonia.

Speaking of Pelotonia, I rode last year. At the time, I was a reporter with The Dispatch – and it was a memorable and moving experience, so much so I knew I wanted to get more involved. In January, I began writing The Rider blog, which is what you are reading right now. I have talked to some amazing people, whose stories needed to be told – and am thankful I now get to do this on a regular basis.

I guess it is only fair that I post a photo of me

Here’s something Jill Weldon – one of our riders – told me yesterday that really hit home and seems to sum up the spirit and purpose of Pelotonia: “My story is one that a lot of people have. The names are different, but the feelings are the same and the losses are just as great. And if Pelotonia can raise money to find cures so others don’t have to go through this, that would be such a blessing.”

The story of Jill – and her late husband, Bill – will be posted in a few days.

10 things about Steve…

Favorite ride

Mount Ventoux and Pelotonia

Here's the top of Mount Ventoux - one of my two favorite rides

Dream ride

Coast-to-coast, USA

Current Pelotonia bike

Specialized Roubaix

Dream bike

The 2015 model of my current bike

Favorite movie


Favorite band/singer


Favorite TV show

Seinfeld and The Wire

Favorite book

Lonesome Dove

Favorite athlete

Jackie Robinson

Favorite post-ride meal

Pizza with the works, two Stone IPAs and a pint of Jenni’s salty caramel ice cream


1 Comment »

  1. I already knew a lot of this but thanks for giving me/us a glimpse into your heart . Thank you for sharing .

    Comment by michelle — July 21, 2010 @ 10:29 AM

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