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Audrey Rabalais, a senior journalism major at Ohio University, is a summer editorial intern with CURE. Although cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong does his most renowned riding in France, he received a warm welcome when he pedaled into Athens last year: Athens, Ohio, to be clear. Armstrong was the spokesman for the inaugural Pelotonia bicycle tour, a 180-mile ride that raised $4.5 million in 2009 for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).The grassroots bicycle tour was the brainchild of Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and CEO of The James. Looking for sources of funding for the cancer center, Caligiuri was inspired by the Pan-Mass Challenge, a cycling event that raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The Pelotonia was then created, the name stemming from peloton, the term for the main group of riders in a cycling race.Unlike runners, cyclists aim to stay as close as possible to one another, as this reduces wind resistance and makes travel more efficient. Although the Pelotonia is not a race, the idea of working as an efficient team applies to the goal of curing cancer – 100 percent of every dollar raised by teams and individuals in the Pelotonia goes toward cancer research. Last year's ride drew 2,265 cyclists from 31 states. This year, there are over 4000 registered entries for the Pelotonia website. The 2010 route will be the same as last year, beginning at Ohio State University's Chemical Abstracts building and, for those who ride the entire route, finishing outside Ohio University's Convocation Center on the first day. Riders then spend the night in Athens and ride back to Columbus the following day. I happened to be in Athens during the race last year, as I was a Resident Assistant in the Convocation Center which, in addition to being a basketball arena, houses a circular residence hall. The hype surrounding the arrival of the riders was tangible, as tents and a band stand were set up earlier in the day. Some of the riders stayed in the dorms overnight and the parking garage was filled with well-used road bikes. In a town with just one main road, an event like this is exciting, especially when the cause is an incredibly worth one.The money raised from last year is currently funding research for pancreatic cancer prevention, triple-negative breast cancer therapies, a new leukemia drug, and the role of heredity in cancer development. If as much or more money is raised this year, who knows what new research is on the horizon for the cancer center.This year's race is August 20 to the 22nd, and it's not too late to sign up! In addition to helping fund cancer research, wouldn't it be great to say that you rode with Lance Armstrong?
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