The Rider

November 11, 2010

An Amazing Act of Generosity

Filed under: Rider Profiles — Tags: , , — The Blog @ 6:07 AM

It seemed like way too many zeros, a total of four, and Riley Adams kept staring at the e-mail he had just received from Pelotonia, reading it over and over.

“I thought it was a mistake, that I’d get an e-mail or a call saying it was a mistake,” said Riley, 16.

It wasn’t, and the $10,000 donation from a complete stranger was for real … and another example of the generosity of the members of the Pelotonia community and the Limited Brands connection that has become part of the fabric of our ride.

Here's Michael (L) and Riley during Pelotonia

The money came from Michael Leedy, 41, a former Limited Brands employee, now living on Sanibel Island off the coast of Florida. One of his best friends is current Limited Brands employee Scott Razek, who also happens to be one of Pelotonia’s biggest boosters.

“Scott is the one who inspired me to ride,” said Michael, who hadn’t ridden a bike in years.

Michael – a consultant in the retail industry – decided to set his sights high and ride 180 miles and raise a minimum of $10,000. He promised his donors that if he reached this magic number, he’d dig down deep into his own pocket and donate a matching $10,000 to Pelotonia.

Michael said he wouldn't have made the 180 miles without the help of his buddies: (L to R) Robert Collier, Ray Whitney, Scott Razek, Michael and Sloan Spalding

“I’m a marketing guy and I decided that before I asked people for money, I had to let them know how deep my own commitment was,” he said.

Michael topped his fund-raising goal in June. Now it was time to decide how – or maybe who – to donate the $10,000.

“I found the stories about the Pelotonia riders I read inspiring,” Michael said.

One in particular made an impression: the story of Riley, whose 8-year-old sister, Eden, died on Dec. 28, 2008.

“Every time I went on a training ride I thought of Riley and his sister,” Michael said.

And so, he decided to donate $10,000 to Riley’s Pelotonia account.

After they received the generous donation, Riley and his father, Rourke, contacted Michael, to thank him. They have stayed in touch and finally met on the Friday of registration/opening ceremonies.

This is the jersey, honoring Eden, that members of Team Riley wore during Pelotonia

“It was extremely emotional to meet them in person and hear Riley’s story in his own words,” Michael said. “They’re such nice people and a remarkable family.”

Riley decided to share the wealth and created the Team Riley peloton, which included six members. They all wore a jersey with Eden’s photo on it.

One of the members of Riley’s team is Rich Lewis, who is also a Limited Brands employee, he’s a corporate pilot – and a friend of Scott Razek. Rich, an incredibly strong/fast rider and a part-time racer, has become Riley’s cycling mentor/coach and the two often go on hammer-time rides. I recently rode with them, 47 miles from New Albany to Granville and back, and struggled to stay with Rich and Riley on the flats as we raced along at 20 MPH, and quickly got dropped when they flew up the hills without slowing down.

Here's Riley (L) and Michael after a recent - and cold! - training ride

Michael trained on the paradise-like island on which he lives, meeting some fellow riders along the way whom he has become friends with.

“It’s good riding territory, but flat,” he said of Sanibel Island, adding he was determined to get in shape for the Hocking Hills and stay with Scott and his crew of riders. It took some creativity, but Michael found a way to get in some hill training on a flat island.

“The only hill is the bridge that leads connects the island to the mainland,” he said of the arched bridge. “I got information on how high the bridge was and divided that into the total climb of Pelotonia.”

This, according to his calculations, meant 36 rounds trips over the bridge, which Michael did several times. With all these bridge climbs in his tank, Michael sailed up all the hills during Pelotonia.

Pelotonia was a wonderful experience, Michael said, the opportunity to reconnect with several of his Limited Brands friends – and make some new friends along the way and be part of something special.

Michael is now hooked on cycling and Pelotonia and promises to be back this year.

Here are some of the members of Michael's support crew during Pelotonia

“I haven’t decided if my goal will be to raise $10,000 or if it will be higher,” he said. “But I’m also going to get other people from here (on Sanibel Island) involved. I’ve got a group of guys I ride with and I’m going to get them up to Columbus.”

Michael is married and he and his wife, Peggy, have two daughters, Keally, 18, and Mackenzie, 13. Peggy and Mackenzie are thinking about riding in Pelotonia this year, as part of the Sanibel Island crew.

10 things about Michael…

Favorite ride

From the Sanibel Lighthouse to Captiva and back

Dream ride

Southern France

Current Pelotonia bike

Specialized Roubaix

Dream bike

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3

Favorite movie

Cinema Paradiso

Favorite band/singer


Favorite TV show

Monday Night Football

Favorite book

2666, by Roberto Bolano

Favorite athlete

Wes Welker


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