Holiday HoHoHOPE

Five is not only for golden rings or how many bicycles I own...

Five Years of Spreading HOPE

I have done a lot in the last five years. But I won't present you with one of those "annual review" type of holiday cards. Nope. Instead, I will tell you the sheer significance of the number 5 in the upcoming year.

2016 will be my 5th year riding for the American Cancer Society's Pan Ohio Hope Ride. MY 5TH YEAR. (They say doing something twenty one times makes it a habit, right? I strive for excellence...seventeen to go!) This means that with the help of my friends, my family, my colleagues and so many others, I have been able to raise funds and awareness for something I am passionate about over the last four years. Something that five years ago, helped save my mother. See, in 2011 my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. In 2011, my mother underwent an operation to remove that cancer. And because the official cancer free "diagnosis" is given at year five, as of 2016 she will be able to OFFICIALLY say she is cancer free!

Five means a lot to BOTH of us. I ride for research. Research provides solutions. Solutions help people live. We are all working towards a cure. Overall, this means HOPE.

The riding I have done for the American Cancer Society's Pan Ohio Hope Ride not only goes towards research, but towards incredible resources such as the ACS Hope Lodges. The Hope Lodges offer cancer patients those caring for them with a free place to stay while undergoing treatment in cities away from home. Nurturing, understanding, community, HOPE. Ohio is the home of two ACS Hope Lodges, and it is from one Hope Lodge to the other where we ride. We connect the miles between Cleveland and Cincinnati with each stroke of the pedal, raising awareness, raising funds and raising HOPE.

An excerpt from my blog entry recapping the 2015 Pan Ohio Hope Ride:
At the Pan Ohio Kick Off, a woman named Rose stumbled across our celebration. After a wait for an open room, she was recently accepted to the Lodge for her stay in Cleveland during treatments. She wanted to meet as many of the people as she could, the people who helped make her stay happen. She was beautiful. And I had tears brimming as she introduced herself to me and gave one of the warmest embraces I have had. She was magical.

2016 not only marks my 5th year riding for HOPE, but it marks the Pan Ohio Hope Ride's Tenth Anniversary! It also will be the first time our ride will go in the opposite direction, starting in Cincinnati and ending here in Cleveland. (That means YOU can be there at the finish line on July 24th!) There are so many reasons I am looking forward to 2016, but I have to be honest, this is one of the biggest. The ride "home" with my teammates as we head north together will be an incredible journey. In fact, this year our team has more than doubled! No doubt it has to do with our incredible captain and former CMSC captain's encouragement, drive, force and passion. See, both are cancers survivors. Both pedal the 328 miles knowing first hand what this disease does to the body, to the mind and to the spirit. Both know first hand how vital research and HOPE are to those with cancer. Both are an inspiration to our entire team and to so many others!

I have lost friends and family members to cancer. We all have been touched by this horrible disease in one way or another. This holiday, consider giving HOPE. The lives you will help by donating towards the Pan Ohio Hope Ride are not just those battling cancers. You touch so many more! Parents, siblings, friends and the children of cancer patients; all are impacted by the successful research and services funded by the ACS. Consider supporting myself, my team and overall supporting the American Cancer Society as we crank our more research, more Birthdays and more....HOPE.

My Butt. Leaving CLE, 2014. (photo cred: #PanOhioYeti)

Wishing You and Yours HoHoHOPE and Happiness this Holiday Season

Love, Shelli

and her bicycles!