Cyclists hitting the road for cancer fight

MARIETTA – Pelotonia, an annual bicycling event aimed at raising funds for cancer research, will take place in Columbus this weekend with a handful of area cyclists participating.

These local riders have all had their lives affected by cancer in some way and chose to participate in Pelotonia 13 as a way to raise funds and fight back against the disease.

Fleming resident Nathan Long, 48, has participated in Pelotonia since its inception in 2009.

“Back in 2007, I lost my mother-in-law and my sister within a month of each other to cancer,” he said.

Soon after, he decided to renew an old passion for cycling and when he saw an ad for the first Pelotonia event while attending an Ohio State University football game in the fall of 2008, he knew that he had to participate.

Long has captained the AEP Energizers for a Cure team all five years and has personally raised more than $10,500 for cancer research.

“The great thing about this event is they have companies who support the administrative side of Pelotonia, so literally all of the money riders raise goes directly toward cancer research,” he said.

All of the Pelotonia proceeds go to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

At least two Marietta riders will be sporting a special survivor’s jersey during the ride.

Mike Dodrill, 62, of Marietta, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 and declared cancer free in 2005.

However, it is his loved ones who did not survive the battle and all those currently struggling for whom Dodrill rides.

“My life was saved because of the hard work people did in the past. All the research funded by this, that’s the motivation,” said Dodrill, who participated in the 2010 event.

He also attended the 2009 event as a spectator. It was then that he heard fellow-survivor Lance Armstrong speak and immediately knew that he wanted to participate.

Riders can commit to riding a 25-, 50-, 75-, 100-, 155- or 180-mile course.

In 2010, Dodrill rode the full 180-mile course and will do so again this year. His cycling team-Crops to the Clinic-includes doctors and scientists from OSUCCC who study how various foods can reduce the risk of and possibly cure cancer.

Marietta resident and cancer survivor Nancy Broughton will be joined by her son and two nieces for this year’s Pelotonia event.

Like Long, Broughton has been a part of the fundraiser since it started.

“When I finished treatment (for colon cancer) in 2009, I wanted some sort of physical challenge just to prove to myself that I was back,” she said.

Since then, the rides have proven to be an emotional experience, with supporters lining the way to thank and cheer on the riders.

But the most inspiring thing has been seeing the event grow every year.

Marietta resident Chuck Sulerzyski, 56, has also participated in the event since it began.

He found out about it through his participating in The Pan-Mass Challenge, the New England event which inspired Pelotonia.

“When I got wind of them trying to make this happen in Ohio, I was very excited,” said Sulerzyski.

He participates in the event as a “High Roller,” meaning he commits to doing more fundraising.

“We all know somebody who’s had cancer so if you can make a dent in that over time, it’ll be great for everybody,” Sulerzyski said.

Donations will be accepted through Oct. 11. Tax-deductible donations can be made at